1.6 – Disaster Relief

July 12, 2015

Dear Darkened Rose,

Unfortunately, my crew JUST finished up our time in Wimberley yesterday. For many weeks, I was directing the Volunteer Reception Center for flood relief. The city was charming initially, but after making countless phone calls to demanding homeowners, dealing with confused volunteers, and being placed in a building with all white walls and doors (monochromatic AND monotonous) I regularly lost my sanity. The fact that we were there for so long under the term indefinitely made things so much worse. I haven’t been able to think straight for a little over 40 days now due to poor diet, essentially no exercise, weird sleeping schedules, and VERY minimal time with family.

This job is tough. I have found myself breaking down and manipulating many parts of who I am to figure out where the walls exist, and it has been utterly exhausting. It’s confusing finding aplomb in such a raw setting, but not nearly as much as I assumed it would be. I conducted large groups of strangers (volunteers). I was stern with people above and linear to me. I was productive in problematic issue management. I grew the respect of admirable people, and learned to imitate the actions of their leadership. I also, honestly, found myself spending some days entirely ineffective and hoping with every ounce of me that I could be anywhere aside from staring at the white walls.

I’ve met an influx of benevolent people through this job. It’s awful knowing that statement hardly has any plausibility without having truly been in my shoes to have met them all. We adapted to appreciate each other unequivocally. We argued, craved understanding, begged for resources, and ultimately all empathized/sympathized with how tired a community can be after having experienced a natural disaster.

Through this mission (as our program and FEMA called it–official sounding, eh?), I found a group of people that worked out of a tribal community in northern California that I absolutely fell in love with. They were called Hoopa. I’m so confused with how my mind associated this group to reflecting your presence in my life, but as an entirety they represented you well for a month while they were here. I found this peculiar form of unconditional love for this unique group of individuals.

It was all brought to a complete concurrence when I spent a couple of days out in the field with them and they listened to an 80’s rock lineup. You Give Love a Bad Name was truly as it states, “[a] shot through the heart.” I recollected memories of our trips to school in Nederland on the mornings of my freshman year of high school. I could hear drywall being pried out from the walls in every room of the house we were in, and I tried to keep busy to avoid crying uncontrollably. I had a very tiny spell, but no one saw. I was covered with safety glasses and a P100 respirator mask, but you were there.

I felt you.

I grew very close to one of the crew leaders (Littlefeather). He told me stories that were beyond my realm of empathy, but I listened intently. I had this immense amount of respect for him. His current position in life is so remarkable, and I felt so grateful to spend as much time with him as I did. I was able to share my pride in him as a person that so influentially came into my life. I know – at the very least – he will remain an example of the type of enthusiasm I intend to carry with a job for many years to come.

I grew selfish with the attention of all of these people, and am working on weaning off snapchat (they got me hooked for a bit). I’m beginning to believe no one cares about my dog, niece, and drinking spells as much as I do. I don’t blame them.

I screwed up and smoked about 5 cigarettes this last deployment. I’m in detox stage, and I am slightly feeling the cravings. I’m certain it will pass, and I’ll be able to overcome that yet again. Back to day one though (I smoked a farewell cigarette to the project yesterday–whoops). I, honestly, haven’t done yoga in quite some time. I look forward to finding the opportunity to do it every day that I am off. I’m quite disrupted, and my body definitely feels the tension. Caleb so kindly bought me a massage, and I scheduled that for Wednesday. So hopefully that helps rejuvenate me to respect the only thing I fully possess (my scarred, tense, and beautiful body).

I love you. I miss you.


Enclosed are cool things.

The Song: Sound of Change

The Pictures: