After the crazy week I had, Alejandra decided that I needed a getaway. So she invited me to come with her to St. Louis for Friday and Saturday to visit a few of her old friends from college. We just got back a few minutes ago, so I want to write about it while it’s fresh in my mind.
What a wonderful idea! It would have never occurred to me because I don’t own a car. The bus and train are so expensive and difficult to deal with. But Alejandra has an old Tesla that she picked up used a few years ago when she had more money, so she can afford a trip like this every once in a while.
I feel sorry for all of these people in southern Illinois who still have to buy gas. Even with grid power prices going up every year, it’s still cheaper to charge an electric than it is to fill a gas tank. Electrics are very affordable nowadays, but people in poor areas are often stuck with gas cars because so many people who want to stop using gas are desperate to sell them. They get an old used gas guzzler for cheap, but then they have to pay so much in fuel and repairs that they can never save up for electric. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s like those pay day loan places that give poor people a loan but then charge them so much interest that they never get out of debt.
Anyway, the trip to St. Louis was so good for me! On the drive up there, we were talking and laughing and singing along to the radio like two carefree teenagers again. We didn’t even talk about Miami or the panel discussion or any of that. We just had a good ride through the country.
When we got to St. Louis, it was a little more serious. We did do some things just for fun, like seeing a play in the park with her friends and walking down the Delmar Loop for some food and shopping. But then we went to a small discussion about Miami that a local nonprofit was organizing.
This one wasn’t nearly as crazy as the one in Carbondale. It was a small one that Alejandra heard about from her friends. There were only about three dozen people and most of them were actually refugees from Miami. We talked for hours about our problems, what it was like to leave Miami, when we planned to go back, and so on. Most of us do plan to go back, but we have different ideas of what that means. Some just want to live there again someday once Bastion has left and people have figured out the best ways to adjust to the new water levels. Others want to go back sooner to do relief work for all the brave souls who are still there trying to find food and water and power. Some stores and relief groups are starting to get food shipments in by boat, but they’re still working out the details of how to make this a permanent rather than temporary arrangement.
It was a really good discussion and a really good trip. Even though I spent the afternoon talking about such a serious topic, it still felt like part of the vacation for me. I got to visit a real city again, I got to meet other refugees from Miami, and I got to spend the whole weekend with Alejandra and her friends. It was definitely a good way to spend the weekend.
I’m tired from the trip and need to get some sleep. Next time, though, I’ll talk more about the latest news from Miami. After that conversation with the other refugees, and what happened in Miami on Friday, I’m sure I’ll have a lot to say.