We are home. After two weeks of being in the most northerly state in America, the CU backpack journalism team is back in Nebraska.
It feels strange to be back. I know that’s probably weird to say, given that I was only gone for two weeks, but everything is just so normal now. My laundry is done, I went to class for a few hours today, the sun is already setting. All of these things are what normally happens on any given day of the year. Still though, it feels strange. Isn’t there any more B-roll to get? Shouldn’t I be filleting a salmon? Aren’t we going to take a walk on the tundra?
Maybe what has happened is that I’ve realized normal is relative. For the people of Bethel, it is normal to drive on the frozen river during the winter. It’s normal for their water to be trucked in. It’s normal to live a subsistence lifestyle. Some things even became normal for me. For example, I didn’t think twice when I looked in the bed of our truck to see two giant salmon staring back at me.
Here in Omaha, I think it will take me a little while to straighten out my own version of normal. It’s as if the two types of normal that I’ve grown used to have blended together. I did my laundry today (normal) and in the back of my mind I thought, “I shouldn’t do this because the water tank might be low,” (also normal). I wore shorts today (normal), and at first I was surprised that I wasn’t cold or attacked by monster mosquitoes (also normal).
Where you are and where you’ve been dictates what is normal. We’ll see if my sense of normality ever shifts back to the way it was before I experienced Alaska. I’m willing to bet that it doesn’t. I hope it doesn’t.