I'm Not Stalking Anyone, Honest
- 1,535 words (if poetry, lines) long
If you happen to live at 4335 Lake Villa Drive in Metairie, Louisiana, I promise this isn't personal. The fictional kids in my fictional story just happen to live on your nonfictional block, that's all. I just popped addresses into Google Maps until I got sort of the house I was envisioning, et voila.
I didn't want to set the story on the street where I grew up. That seemed too easy. Plus I've done it before. So I hit on using the piece of Lake Pontchartrain I'm next most familiar with: the area by the Suburban Canal. I rode my bike down there countless times as a teenager, sometimes hanging out under the gazebo with my writing notebook and my headphones, sometimes just tossing french fries to the seagulls. I guess I could have had my two fictional kids hanging out on the sea wall by the Bonnabel Boat Launch, but it's too late now. I've worked on the story long enough that, dammit, they live where they live, and trying to pretend otherwise would be dishonest.
Sometimes pieces of a story get ossified like that; they're no longer up for debate because that's the way it happened. What began as fiction sort of calcifies into, if not exactly reality, than an idea that my thought processes treat as reality. Katrina happened in '05, the New Orleans Saints won their Divisional Championship in '06, and Louise and Jimbo live on the first block of Lake Villa south of West Esplanade. I know one of those things isn't true, but my thoughts make room for it just as though it were no less factual than the other two.
Anyway... If you happen to live in the area, dear reader, I wouldn't mind knowing how your neighborhood fared. The story is set during November/December '05, and I want to be at least semi-faithful to what really happened. Was it like my parents' block, where all the damage came from holes in roofs, not flood? Was the street pretty empty during the months following, or did people come home fairly quickly? I didn't see too much full-body devastation last time I took a bike ride up Lake Villa from the pumping station to Veterans Memorial Boulevard, but then that was December '06 and all sorts of restoration could have happened since. And when did all that construction at the pumping station start? It's not the safe-house I'm talking about; that's done. It's all the cranes digging up huge chunks of levee that I mean. And when was that sea wall built in front of the mouth of the canal? I know it wasn't there when I was in high school some 15 years ago. How do you even begin Googling for that kind of information? Think the Jefferson Parish Library can help? They can certainly tell me about branch closures and reopenings after the storm, at least. Maybe I should check the NOLA.com message boards, or ask around the comment sections at Metroblogging New Orleans.
If you have info and feel like sharing, the email link is at the bottom right-hand corner of the page. Yes, it's a pop-up web form. I'm sorry. Deal with it.