Taking the field
Typically, and thankfully, the damage would be minimal, and we would come back to our house, pick up debris and tree branches that had been scattered around the lawn, and go on living just as we had before. But in August 2005, when Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans, things no longer operated like a fire drill. We left, but we did not come back. The home I grew up in, the place that had been the centerpiece of my life, had been subsumed by over eight feet of water. It was gone.
We were fortunate to find a top school in Houston that generously offered us scholarships to complete the year. It was a private international school, with students from over seventy countries and a dozen languages being spoken as you walked through the hallway. It was a place with a profoundly different social and cultural milieu than the public school I attended in New Orleans.
I was uncertain, and nervous, about the nature of this transition. No longer was I going to complete my senior year of high school with the friendships I had been developing throughout my entire life. I was going into a space that felt worlds away from what I was accustomed to. I was granted the good fortune, however, to enter this new school environment at the beginning of the soccer season. And at an international school, the soccer team was the most important team around.
I had played soccer my entire life, and at the most competitive levels. I had dreams of becoming a professional, making a living from playing the game I loved in one of the top leagues in Europe. I had long harbored dreams of the places this game would take me, but I could have never anticipated that it would serve as the cornerstone of my transition into a new school after mine had been submerged, and to a new life after that.