Updated: Listen to The Story with Dick Gordon today for an interview with local Ocean Springs attorney, Al Jordan, speaking about the complexity and emotion of working with Gulf Coast families and fishermen on oil spill claims.
You might know him as "Maguire." Yes, my husband snuck into my dream of being on The Story! Ahhhhh, so close!
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Oil washed ashore in Mississippi Sunday. It happened. The oil came.
No longer can we say, “Before the oil comes…” and finish the phrase with something lighthearted and hopeful. Something naive. Something about touching the water.
I read the news online late Sunday night, after a frivolous evening watching True Blood at my parents’ house and showing off Olive’s new standing skills. She is eight months old. We expect her to take her first steps before her older brothers return to school in August. Older brothers can make you learn how to do all kinds of things more quickly.
It was close to 10 pm when I realized that oil had reached Ocean Springs. Never short on irony, it arrived at the same spot on the beach where we have been soaking in last chances. My husband and the boys were asleep, piled into our bed, trying to sneak in a late night viewing of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Do I wake my husband? In hushed tones reserved for those last few hours of pregnancy when you measure your being and decidedly whisper in the middle of the night, “Honey, it’s time.”
This version would weigh heavier. “Honey, it’s here. The oil has come. No, you don’t need to wake up. I just thought you should know.”
I did not wake him. I won’t give It the satisfaction. The Oil. We say it with capital letters, too, dontcha know?
My camera sits on my kitchen counter at home as I write this post from Bankhouse Coffee in Long Beach, a handful of miles down the beach from Ocean Springs and Biloxi, where the bay is now closed in hope of protecting our marshland.
Driving along the beach from our home in Gulfport, I squinted out at the Mississippi Sound, our puddle of water protected from the Gulf of Mexico by a string of barrier islands. Seen from great heights, a puddle of water developing a rainbow sheen of oil. A puddle of water with two little skimmer boats, entrusted with the duty of protecting the entire Mississippi Sound. Two.
My camera sits on my kitchen counter. Deliberately. I am not the blogger to turn citizen journalist for this story. I may well not document the news. I may well not document the oil that has now found us, mousse-like and chocolate brown. Uninvited.
I may well document my fury.
But not yet. Today I am simply sad. And worried.
Before the oil came, I would thrill at the sight of whitecaps on the water, waves crashing into our gulf coast shores. Today, the thrill at the sight of whitecaps on the water, waves crashing into our gulf coast shores is replaced by worry and hesitation.
A hurricane churns in the Gulf of Mexico. Bands of thunderstorms spin off from our south, drench us and threaten. Hurricane season has only begun its teeth-grinding annual torture. Alex begins with an “A.”
Each whitecap carries with it a threat. Of destruction. Of memories. Of the damn oil.
I hate the word “landfall.” More than you can imagine.
Apparently, this is not going to be easy. Before the oil came, I didn’t want to cry.