Monday, September 10, 2012

What do Albuquerque and NOLA have in Common? Hurricanes

When Avi was a child during my graduate school years, he and I had a weekend breakfast date at a local dive called Hurricanes. At least once or twice a month, we would find ourselves seated in a red Naugahyde booth across the metal-trimmed formica tabletop from each other. If it was crowded and we were hungry, we might park at the counter on red swivel barstools to expedite the meal. We celebrated the day we became regulars and the waiter brought my coffee with creamers and Avi’s orange juice without asking for our order.  Sometimes we ate pancakes or French toast, but more often than not, Avi ordered huevos rancheros—Christmas style (red and green chile) with hashed browns, and I got the burrito supreme with bacon, smothered with cheese and red chile. While waiting for Frank to bring us our meal, we played "football" with the empty single-serving creamer containers, shooting them across the table through the goal posts of the other’s upright fingers. And we talked. Sometimes about school, sometimes about family, sometimes about the future.
Avi was born in August 1987. At 17, he was done with high school and ready to leave home for college.  He landed at the New Orleans airport in time to head to Tulane University for his Freshman Orientation. Instead, he had to evacuate with his girlfriend and her mother to Arkansas to escape the incoming hurricane. Tulane said “we’ll reopen on Wednesday.” But on that Monday, Avi’s 18th birthday, he awoke to newscasts of Category 5 Hurricane Katrina plowing into New Orleans. He called from Arkansas – “Mom, WTF am I supposed to do now?!” With Tulane closed, he returned to Albuquerque, attended UNM for a semester, and then went back to Tulane.
Fast-forward to 2012 and you will find Avi, a Tulane graduate, still in New Orleans, now the CFO of the Broadmoor Development Corporation, a post-Katrina housing recovery effort in the Broadmoor neighborhood. (See link at the top of this blog, left side.)
During the recent slow passage of Hurricane Isaac, Avi hunkered down in his landlady's house, upstairs from his own basement unit (not a good place to be during a hurricane/flood!). They lost power, sleep, and, briefly, perspective. He also lost many of his books and other belongings to mold and water damage. But I think his crockpot still works, and you can bet he’ll be making some good New Mexico green and red chile stews this fall. And if the Saints cannot get their act together, there are always Mimosas, and creamer football.

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