Christmas Party 2007

Of Writers and Friends

By Candice Proctor

You’re looking at an incredible group of people. We are the men and women of Sola, the Southern Louisiana chapter of the Romance Writers of America, gathered here for our third post-Katrina Christmas Party. Every one of these people has a tale to tell, of heartbreak and trauma, of loss and triumph. Some lost family members to the storm, many lost houses or suffered devastating damage. Even those whose homes miraculously escaped nevertheless endured long periods of evacuation, survivor guilt, and all the craziness that is a part of living in a devastated city still partially patrolled by the National Guard.

We held our first post-Katrina meeting just two months after the storm. We sat around in a circle and simply listened as, one after the other, we took our turn telling our stories. Some tales were harrowing, others hilarious. Together, we laughed, we cried, and we forged a bond that is still there and probably always will be.

Jamie, the woman who hosted this year’s party, has almost finished rebuilding. This house is in Lakeviw, about a mile from the levee break. There’s a plaque about six feet up on the entry wall, marking their Katrina water line. Many of her neighbors are gone, their houses now empty lots. But an encouraging number have returned, or are at least in various stages of rebuilding. As we drank wine and laughed through Sadistic Santa, we could hear the distant whirl of a saw and the steady tapping of hammers. The sounds of our city, coming back.

Oh, and if you’re wondering why we’re holding food packages, it’s because we also collected foodstuffs for the local foodbank.