Happiness coursed through me. It took a few minutes but I finally realized: The shock had just worn off after 4 long years.I lost just about everything in 4 inches of water in August of 2005. Came back to pull out a few things, said goodbye to that home and spent the next few years working hard on my city and living in many neighborhoods of New Orleans, taking offers from friends of empty apartments, a place for a FEMA trailer etc. Waited for my old apartment to be ready; ultimately realized it would never be because the landlady would not fix them right and wanted twice the rent. Almost built my own house, decided not. Finally, I found an apartment in my favorite area. Quiet, small yard for Maddie the Cartoon Dog, nice porch to sit and watch the birds. Painted it, bought stuff for it, puzzled over what should go where. Finally, on a sunny warm day in mid-October, I had no more errands to do. I unlocked my bike, rode to nearby City Park. As I crested the Dreyfous Bridge, I looked at the fishers to the right, then as I descended the hill, at the sculpture garden to the left. As I picked up speed, I suddenly felt as if I had just fully woken up. As if my ears had been plugged and now open, I could hear every happy sound. Everything was brighter. Happiness coursed through me. It took a few minutes but I finally realized: The shock had just worn off after 4 long years. It would never be completely okay, but it was time to live fully again.