It was a morning roughly eight years ago on my commute to work, early sunshine glinting off the Dallas skyline, that Mark called me with the news. Circumstances had changed and matters had been juggled. We would not be moving to San Antonio as expected. He was to be stationed in the fairly recently Katrina-ravaged Mississippi Gulf Coast town of Biloxi.
Having never visited this part of the country before I had little idea what to expect, but reactions to our news varied from cooing over the stately beauty of the land & houses to raised eyebrows & low-whistles. Yet, nothing anyone said was sufficient to prepare us.
In early 2007, Biloxi, MS and her neighboring communities were still fighting a desperate battle for recovery. As we drove along the coastline for the first time we saw sprawling concrete slabs – the only evidence left of the beautiful historic homes we had heard so much about. Sun-bleached skeletons of buildings stood on their spindly legs. Forgotten clothing still hung in the trees.
Not easily deterred, we started our hunt for a place to call home. The list of available rental properties was woefully short. The first place we visited had half a fence and an overturned crushed hot tub laying in the backyard. They were asking almost double what we were paying for our Dallas apartment. We drove on in stunned silence. Mark finally gave a nervous laugh and said “I keep waiting for us to get to the place that is going to make all of this okay.”