The Strange Blessing That Brought Me Home

Robin Baudier

hide captionRobin Baudier lived in her family's FEMA trailer for 10 months in 2006. Before Katrina, she worked on script development for an independent film producer in Los Angeles. Baudier now has her own apartment but continues to help rebuild her parents' house.

Photo Courtesy of Robin Baudier

I believe in strange blessings.

I have never been in such good shape. I have never spent so much time outside. I caught the past three sunsets in a row, and unless I am mistaken, I will catch the one tonight. I have never felt so close to my family. I have never felt so sure that I am doing everything right.

I live in a FEMA trailer with my parents. I moved home from Los Angeles the February before last, quitting the job that had taken me almost a year of miserable internships to get, to make sure firsthand that my family was OK. Now I work on my dad's house on the weekends and at his dental laboratory during the week. Shutting the curtain on the bunk-bed area doesn't always cut it for privacy, so I spend a lot of time outside, exercising the dog and just trying to get away from people.

I take the dog out on the levee and run to get rid of all my frustration over not being able to have a job that will allow me to afford rent. I run to get out, when I have been stuck inside, reading to escape from life, not even able to sit up straight in my tiny bunk. I run to feel like I am doing something when I am overwhelmed by all the things I can't do anything about.

The reason I caught the sunset yesterday is that we have been waiting for two weeks for FEMA to come fix a leak in our plumbing. I was so frustrated with running out in a towel to turn the water off, then mopping up the floor with the rotating assortment of towels that we have hung outside the trailer, that I decided to put on my bathing suit and shampoo under the hose. But God, that was a beautiful sunset last night.

I know it might sound strange that I am indirectly describing Hurricane Katrina as a blessing, since it took my family's home and recovering from it has taken over our lives. But I love my awful life so much right now, that I find it hilarious when I am unable to convince anyone else of it.

I make less than the people working at Popeye's. I repeatedly have to suffer the indignity of telling people that I live with my parents. But I have finally gotten rid of back pain that the doctors always told me was from stress. I occasionally have weekends when I realize that I am building a house with my dad, which I used to dream about when I was 6, watching Bob Vila with him. And I am back where I belong, no longer kidding myself that there is anywhere else I want to be.

I believe in strange blessings, because taking away my house brought me home.

Independently produced for Weekend Edition Sunday by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman with John Gregory and Viki Merrick.

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