What is ordinary?
Life is pretty ordinary when you grow up in the suburban empire of Westchester, New York. Everyone spends their weekends in the city, exploring the alleyways and side streets coated with cobblestone and brick and glass and steel. Maybe we’ll take a break and go hike on a trail through the Hudson Highlands in our backyard, or take a ride down to the river to watch the sunset. We all eat at the same places, we go to the same mall, we went go to high school and watched the Friday night football games. We all had school spirit, practiced our evacuations in case of a nuclear explosion, went to college, and we… wait a second.
What? What do you mean not every high school practices their emergency evacuation routes in case of a nuclear meltdown? Believe it or not, this was an annual occurrence in which we would evacuate the school, ingest mock pills to simulate what we would take to help reduce radiation poisoning, and board our allocated buses that would take us away from the new Chernobyl I once called home. This was never weird to me. This was just another precaution, on top of the fire and lock down drills. It didn’t faze me because I grew up with them, and with the knowledge that there was a nuclear power center in my theoretical back yard. Indian point energy center was just a part of life in Westchester. Any time you go to the river, or take the train, you can’t help but notice the intense stone structures and smoke stacks that obscure the beautiful rolling mountains of lower NY. A center with the capability of killing thousands upon thousands and poisoning even more. This was always normal.
It wasn’t until I came to school that I realized not every high school student has the same experience that I had. I felt like the most ordinary of students in the most ordinary of towns, until someone put into perspective that it was insane to practice drills in case of a nuclear apocalypse, especially so close to NYC. It was at that moment that it finally hit me. What I knew as ordinary was completely unheard of by so many, to the point where they couldn’t even fathom my annual routine. I then went on imagining what other things I took as ordinary in my high school that may not be as normal as I thought, and the same for other schools. My ordinary suburban empire of a life, in a boring town, with a nuclear power plant capable of destroying everything I know. Ordinary, right?