Is this normal?

We arrived at La Guardia Saturday night at 10:30 pm and I honestly could not wait to get back to my apartment, take a hot shower, and crawl into bed. Yet this trip has somehow changed how I see “normal” life and I’ve come to realize that I don’t really know how to define what normal is any more. It seems that as I complete each “normal” activity, my mind seems to wander back to those individuals we met and to their stories about surviving the hurricane as well as the trials they are still facing today. As I walk down the populated streets of New York I think of those abandoned houses and the wind whistling through the empty streets of New Orleans in the lower 9th ward. As I unpack my clothes and do my laundry, I think to myself of how lucky I am that I have a bed to sleep in, a place to wash my dirty work clothes, and a hot shower conveniently located in my apartment. And I wonder how is it possible that five months after the storm so many families are still sleeping in their cars or are living in their toxic and unsafe houses. Is this normal or are we just accepting it as such?

It is this idea of normal which seems to plague me as return to my life in New York. I go through the motions yet the manner in which I view life has been altered. I still feel confused and disoriented as I continue through my daily activities, yet I feel need to question society’s construction of norms and challenge our acceptance of these terrible circumstances which persist among the people of Pensacola, Biloxi, and New Orleans. Why aren’t more people helping? Why isn’t the government helping? Why don’t we care?

An amazing man that we met in New Orleans told us that he felt the most important thing concerning this situation was the people. He said that when you help the people everything else would fall into place. People just need to help people. And I feel that is the ultimate goal…just to help people.

Kristin Brabender

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