Today some cyber friends of mine have been brought together in Chicago for a St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser being hosted/sponsored by Donna’s Good Things. These people, along with a host of others, are having their heads shaved to help conquer childhood cancer. These are ordinary people doing an extraordinary thing. (I would have loved to be there but couldn’t; I am participating both in my heart and on my Amex bill.) The hugeness of this event has made me reflect on many things, one of them being the ordinariness of my existence.
I am an ordinary person. I live an ordinary life. I had an ordinary childhood (from where I was sitting, anyway). I grew up in an ordinary small town. I don’t think I’ve ever done an extraordinary thing.
Our family moved to my hometown when I was 3 years old. My brothers went to school, I stayed home with mom. The next year I started school; went to the same school for 9 years until it was time to graduate to highschool, which I then attended for the next 5 years. Most of the kids in my public school class were right there with me for the entire time. My parents stayed married, as did the parents of most of my friends. My dad had the same job the whole time I was growing up. My mom started working once I was old enough to be home alone after school. I took piano lessons (not that successfully, but still), as did my brother BlueEyes (he was very successful). We sang in the local music festival as did all the kids from the public schools in our town. All three of us kids had paper routes at one time or another. We rode our bikes all over town and knew the best streets for trick-or-treating. We had trees in our backyard for climbing and empty fields all around town for exploring. We pretty well had the run of the whole town but mainly stayed in our “quarter” (judging solely by the number of public schools in town). In the summer holidays we went to the town park, which is on a lake, every day the weather permitted. I don’t remember it ever raining more than twice a summer. We picnicked, we built sand castles, we played tag. I did just fine in school; recesses were spent on the baseball diamond or on snowhills. I never ran away from home and neither did my brothers. I don’t remember any friends of mine ever doing that, either. My brothers and I always got along.
When I finished highschool I moved to the city to attend a post-secondary institute of higher learning. So did my brothers before me. They proved more successful than I, again. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life so I just kind of drifted through classes. For a couple of years. Then I realised I didn’t want to do that (my chosen program of study) and changed schools and majors. After another couple of years I opted out again. I worked some ordinary jobs until I found one that kept me for 13 years. I live in an ordinary small town (okay, maybe not so small, but it feels like it); I have an ordinary house; we are an ordinary family with two parents and a child; BoyGenius attends an ordinary public school much like my own; we have ordinary bills and eat ordinary food.
I don’t have much to write about — to me, it’s all just ordinary, every-day stuff. I don’t believe that it could be interesting to many. As an adult, I have come to realise that not many people have had an “ordinary” childhood (or what I understand as ordinary). Everyday I am made privy to friends’ (both cyber and physically present ones) histories and stories and read and listen in both awe and revulsion; with both pity and compassion, with both anger and incomprehension. How did I miss all this stuff? How lucky was I to have my ordinary family, not one of us with any special needs. How lucky am I to be having the same thing now with my own child?
I don’t have a story to tell. Nothing bad happened to me as a child. I am ordinary … or perhaps not. Maybe the fact that I don’t have a story to tell makes me extraordinary. Is that a good thing?