Reverb 10: Moment
Photo by missmartini
While getting engaged was the most significant thing that happened to me, in 2010, I actually felt most alive this year while helping renovate a house with the St. Bernard Project in Arabi, Louisiana. The photo above is of our Saturday group, but for me, the winning day was Friday, May 28.
Arabi, Louisiana is on the water. Well, not on the water, but it’s close enough to the Mississippi River, Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Borgne, and the Gulf of Mexico to feel like a sauna once the temperatures get above 80°F. And if you know anything about southeastern Louisiana, you know that come late May, the temperatures often surpass that mark. On this day, the high was were in the 90s with about 90% relative humidity — a heat index of 131°F.
But Jason and I were scheduled to help with mold remediation. The home had been professionally treated for the mold that damaged it in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. We were just applying some latex primer to the wood beams to help ensure that it wouldn’t return.
Most of our day involved climbing 8-foot ladders and reaching into the rafters of this house that had been gutted to its studs. There were no inner walls. The wiring had just been completed, but the electricity wasn’t turned on. There was a pipe sticking up out of the floor in what had been the bathroom, but no toilet. If we had to pee or poo, we had to walk down the street to an old school building that was home to AmeriCorps volunteers. We didn’t have air conditioning or fans, and we didn’t even have a cooler to keep our water warm.
Believe me when I say: this shit had all of the makings of a miserable ass day. But, actually, it was awesome.
My “most alive moment” came between 3 and 4 pm. Jason and I were tackling the beams in a room on the right-rear of the house. By that point, I was tired. I was covered in latex primer. My body smelled like salty sweat and my tee shirt was soaked with it. My legs were sore from the step-up-the-ladder-step-down-the-ladder routine that I had been doing since 9 am. Warm afternoons in southeastern Louisiana are good for two things: a 4 pm thunderstorm, and a cool change in the breeze. This one didn’t disappoint.
I heard the first breeze before I felt it. It caused the grass to rustle outside one of the room’s windows. I looked out and watched the blown blades bend. And when the first licks of cool air hit my face, I put my brush in the tray, closed my eyes and enjoyed it.