Greetings from your past.

By Jennifer Keegin

There in my inbox  was a message entitled “Setting After Katrina”. Immediately I was confused. Why would I be getting an email regarding Hurricane Katrina and “settling after” it? Katrina was five years ago. Yes, I lived in New Orleans before, during, and after Katrina – but was someone reaching out to poll me about my experiences?

Nope. It was actually something much more meaningful. It was an email to me – FROM ME – sent five years ago.

Greetings from your past. In the fall of 2005, you agreed to receive this
message, which has been preserved in the Forbes.com E-Mail Time Capsule.

I don’t remember writing this email message. I don’t remember how in world I would have seen something like this and decided to write myself a note. I’m glad I did. It’s just a simple, quickly written little note – but I’ll share it with you:

Here is the text of your message:Hello. It’s been 15 days since Joe and I moved back to New Orleans. We really like our apartment and we’ve ordered thousands of dollars worth of furniture but won’t see it until December.We still don’t have a land line phone and won’t for a least another week. Meanwhile I’ve run out of run-over minutes on my cell phone and so I’m incurring a large cell phone bill.

Gobi has done so well during this Hurricane situation and so we are happy that she’s OK and happy. She finally found the window in the bedroom. Windows make her happy.Joe and I are great and are still playmates. Two years in February.

Getting this email reminded me of how losing contact with the world after Katrina was unsettling and to a certain extent frightening. Cell phone towers down, friends scattered all over the country – it took us a week to get back on-line to figure out what was going on. After that, it was a constant battle to get somewhere where we had access to the internet. I didn’t have an iPhone or a laptop with wireless connectability. We had no computer, my brother didn’t even have cable! When we stayed with Grandma – she had dial up! We stayed in TN, KY, AL, and southern LA before we were allowed back in the city two months later.

We had a ruined apartment. All electronic items that we thought would be completely safe in the bathroom were ruined because the water heater was actually right above it in the roof. The roof had been ripped off in one chunk and everything we owned was left out to the elements for two months.

My husband, cat, and I found an apartment and start to put our lives back together. At the point this email was written, we had received money from renters insurance (which I always stress to students that they should have) and were trying to purchase furniture. Its a long story from beginning to end but needless to say that we didn’t even own a bed anymore, so buying furniture sounds fun, but it was also a necessity.

I am grateful for this message today. I am grateful for my life, my family, and my health. I am grateful that this simple project on-line has probably sparked all kinds of thoughts and feelings in those who have already received their messages and have yet to receive them.

Take care all.

Link to an article regarding this project.

  • Colleen Riggle

    WOW! That would have brought a tear to my eye!! I like the online project and feel it could be infused into my freshman seminar class – how cool!