Hello, blog – I don’t remember how you work, so that’s going to be part of picking up the pieces. Finding out whether I have the energy and enthusiasm to resurrect you will also be a part of it, and today, deciding to sit down and write when I don’t know what to say, don’t know where to start, is my first effort to find out if the spark is still there. After several ups and downs of marital and financial defeat, the last leaving me more beaten, more ‘deer in the headlights’ than I’d ever imagined myself being, do I still have the ‘umph’ to stand back up one more time? Is the passion that Hurricane Katrina instilled in me to write my story dead? Or is it only hiding, waiting until I can breathe again. We’ll see.
How much do I explain? The bio I initially wrote for this blog in 2013 is no longer accurate, and an update must be written, relegating who I was then to the ‘past’, the ‘former’, to the ‘gone’. I’d thought 2013 represented the end, the hard-earned, hard-prayed-for release from a long, 8 year period of upheaval that began with a marriage in 2005, beset by problems from the start but made worse by the effects of Hurricane Katrina a few months later. To stay sane through the work, I told myself that those years were a hiatus from who I was, a suspended animation of the agenda I had planned for my life. But it was the 3 years of peace and creativity at the end of that, 2013-2016 when I started this blog, that turned out to be the hiatus in the 14 year upheaval that was my marriage, a marriage that came to a close this year, along with my lifelong residence in New Orleans where my personal sense of identity and purpose, as well as 260 years of family history, have been inextricably and gorgeously bound with the identity and history of French and Spanish Louisiana. My gut wants to shout out the pain of blindsiding betrayals to anyone who will listen. But my wounded sense of self whispers “no one cares”. Is it a question of indignity, or unseemliness, that tells me that circumspection, that discretion when it comes to the telling of the betrayals would better represent the moral high road that has been harder and harder for me to stick to? For now, I think it’s best to set it aside until the experience is farther behind me. Will I? I can’t say.
So what would an honest update of my bio look like?
I’m no longer “a 55-yr-old writer, artist, and anthropologist”. I’m 61, haven’t written for 4 years, and only marginally succeeded at continuing to be an artist and anthropologist with the Thibodeaux project. And that came to an end this past year when the huge, still-unfinished Thibodeaux sculpture had to be packed up, together with the rest of my possessions, hastily moved out under threat of danger, and then, without a place for it to go, put into storage.
Can I still claim to be the “8th-generation New Orleanian” who wrote my 2013 bio, now that I’ve left New Orleans, permanently, something I had never thought I’d ever do, to be closer to family in Oregon? I’m an ex-New Orleanian. Can I still say I’m a first generation post-Katrinian, when I have left the area affected by Katrina? I know I will forever feel like what my online name suggests, post-Katrina Stella (my full given name is Laura Stella, I answer to either one), because I’ll never again be the person I was before Katrina and the marriage that began only a few months before.
What I am is a 61 yr-old… something in me wants to use the not-quite-accurate but experientially spot-on word, “refugee”, from a marriage that cost me my financial security, which in turn cost me my own beloved family home where my grandmother and I made magic, my native habitat of French Louisiana, and the few people still there whom I love. In the 4 years since I wrote the 2013 bio that is no longer true, I have lost my faith in humanity, my confidence as the master of my own life, and possibly my purpose on this earth, to write the family history. What am I now? I’ve been in Oregon now for 5 months, and there are times when I feel like an amorphous being in a foreign sea, barely treading above wave after wave of tasks and adjustments that go into relocation to another state, culture, climate, etc., living amidst different personalities, rules, lifestyles, and world views, in places that belong to someone else. In my younger years, I took on tremendous adventures into the unknown with energy, confidence, and great clarity of purpose. That girl is gone. What am I now? Exhausted.
Enough of that. I have a job to do, other than updating my bio. I must… must… get the amazing collection of family photos and documents that have come down to me, as the only child of an only child of an only child, onto Ancestry.com for the world to have before I die, together with as many stories as I can include. I know I have the energy for that, and I can start that right now. On that note, I say, hoping that it turns out to be true, that I’ll see you tomorrow.
Over’n’out – Laura Stella Sitges