May 3rd was my groups last day working with the St.Bernard’s Project. Working on the same house all week, and the same people you get into a familiar routine, a rarity on this venture, and now so quickly it has come to an end! Next week we will be working with various organizations such as the Green Project, and Habitat for Humanity, switching it up day-to-day.
To say the least this week has been amazing. For me it has truly been a roller coaster of emotions, that all came to a huge fast-paced drop Thursday evening. As I had mentioned in my second blog, this semester has been rough, coming on this trip I really didn’t know what to expect and my headspace was everywhere. I got really homesick very early on, and so I was feeling discouraged with myself with how I was handling my emotions. Death, abandonment, and loss have been huge themes thus far in our trip and I completely was not processing any of it. Last night we had a check-in where we are able to talk about our processing of the trip, our projects, really anything on our mind. Every person gets a chance to talk and express themselves freely. I had decided that I was going to pass, that I had nothing to say, that I wasn’t feeling anything. Then a couple people from my group that I have grown extremely close to began to talk, and I knew I had to say something. I opened my mouth and immediately became choked up, I could feel the tears pulsing under my eyelids trying to get out – but I didn’t want it to happen. I didn’t even know what I was going to say I just started talking and actually broke down. I hadn’t even realized it until that moment when I opened my mouth that I actually was feeling SO much. I am the kind of person that would rather paste a smile on, I don’t like to admit defeat, and for some reason these past couple months I have been closing myself off from acknowledging all my uncertainties, and sadness about death and the unknown. Coming to New Orleans and hearing all the stomach turing stories, hearing about the loss, and sadness that people had experienced and are currently experiencing I just completely closed myself off further from feeling anything. Then of course at the check-in when I opened my mouth I let it out, I let myself feel. It was such a self-reflective experience. The people that I have been working with I become so close with, like I have known forever, the love I have started to feel for these people has been so therapeutic. By coming here and helping others, I have helped myself. I realize even more how thankful I am for my family, a roof over my head, an education, access to clean water and adequate food, medical assistance, and people who love me at my fingertips. The people of New Orleans have been picking themselves up from Katrina for almost seven years, and they are so strong, they just keep living. After death there is life, and then there is death, and then there is life. There is always life.
PS. My group was working on house in Gentilly (I think that’s how you spell it?!), doing odd jobs to help get moving to the finishing touches. We sanded and painted doors, we caulked around all the outlets and screwed the covers back on, we organized tools, we worked on soil in the back yard…so many things!