Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Normal

www.trifectawritingchallenge.com








This week's prompt:

NORMAL (noun)  
1: a : a normal line  
    b : the portion of a normal line to a plane curve between the curve and the x- axis 
2: one that is normal 
          3: a form or state regarded as the norm : standard
Please remember:
  • Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
  • You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
  • The word itself needs to be included in your response.
  • You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above. 
  • Only one entry per writer.


Here is my entry in 333 words:



It’s amazing how quickly we get used to things.


When I first came to this country as a child, I had a few impressions of this new land within minutes of my arrival. 


In the airport restroom, a woman smiled at me.  I remember being so bewildered that I asked my mom why a stranger would smile at me.  I learned that people are generous with their smiles here, and it represents a greeting--even for strangers.


Next, I thought there was nothing but free space here.  Everything was so spacious.  The restroom was huge; the airport was gigantic.  As we drove away, I saw that roads were wide, parking lots were enormous, and stores were humongous. 


Huh.  Kind people and spacious living.  I can get used to this.


Almost a decade later, I went back to visit family and friends on the little island in the East where I was born. 


As soon as I exited the plane, I felt claustrophobic.  There were people everywhere, all cramped up next to one another.  And no one made any eye contact, no matter how close your nose was to the next person’s.   Smiles were only for people you knew.


At a park, I met up with my best friend from grade school.  We had kept in touch by writing real, ‘Air-Mail’ letters all those years.  She was so happy to see me that she hugged me and took my hand.  And she didn’t let go.  We started walking, and I realized that I was holding hands with a girl, my age, while strolling out in public.  Huh.  I immediately saw many other girls holding hands--even in threes and fours--walking down the street.  Decidedly, I didn’t let go of her hand.  The awkwardness on my part soon passed, and I held her hand back.


So people don’t smile at you here.  But girls hold hands because they are friends.  This is the local normal.


It’s amazing how quickly we get used to things.




14 comments:

  1. The observations put in such a precise manner.

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    1. Thank you so much, Ruby. This is exactly how I remembered it, even from long, long ago.

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  2. I like your story, Sandra. There are definite cultural differences. It's interesting that when put in new social situations, we immediately look to see what everyone else is doing. (And we often do this without even realizing it.)

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    1. You're absolutely right, Janna. My immediate reaction was to see what other girls were doing, since eighteen-year-olds here don't usually hold hands as friends in public. But I adored the way she showed her affection, nevertheless, and it was a wonderful moment of my trip.

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  3. Great observations about different cultures. I loved your description of the U.S. since, if you are born here, it's just normal!

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    1. Now that I've lived here for 30+ years, this culture is my normal now. But when I do go back home, it's another kind of nostalgic normal, if you know what I mean. Thanks for your comment, lumdog!

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  4. I really like how you detailed the cultural differences for us. Normal is all about what you know and with which you are familiar. My friends and I hold hands a lot as well. I've always loved it as an expression of our closeness and how we feel for one another. I'm glad you accepted your friend this way as well and adjusted to that "normal". Thanks for sharing this!

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    1. Gina, I can't say that outside of that one experience have I ever held hands with another girlfriend (here). There's something about the culture of personal space here, and as far as I know, none of my friends would *want* to hold my hand. That is wonderful that you can share that kind of affection with your friends. For now, besides hubby, I am just holding my kids hands while they still let me. =) Thank you for reading!

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  5. I have the same sentiments when I got back home - except that in the Philippines, people are free with their smiles and gossips - even when you don't know each other.

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    1. I must say that the part about people smiling was truly what I remembered at that age. I've been back home many times since, and I don't remember in the recent times that people were not generous with their smiles. Either the culture is changing, or my 30-plus-year-old memory is skewed. Nevertheless, those two items stood out as my first experience here in the States. Thanks for your comment, Imelda!

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  6. I'm getting on a plane in a few days to go back East, and I'm about to be hit with that wall of claustrophobia. Where there's no space to move, and you're rubbing elbows quite literally. I love it, though, and I'm looking forward to it. You've done a great job capturing the differences between two cultures. I like how you decide to embrace the American one as a result of someone being friendly with you. Nice!

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    1. Thank you! Good luck, again, on that flight. I hope it is as smooth as the one that brought you here!

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  7. I love the concept of the "local normal." A fantastic description of learning new norms, and facing old ones.

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    1. Thank you, Christine. While I didn't know this when I was younger, norms are all relative. Now I'm not so conscientious about the normal anymore. Age does that to you. =)

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