January 18, 2008
By Briele Poupko, Roslyb, NY

Growing up and being exposed to people of the same race since the time he was born made Jordan question if Orthodox Judaism was the only religion? In reality Orthodox Judaism was not the norm but then again what does it mean to be normal? All his life Jordan’s reality has been based on a combination of the environment he has grown up in and the reality his parents ha taught him. One day in school the teacher wrote on the board the word Normal. The whole class just sat there in the dark the entire period silent that was the lesson for the day. Ever since that day in class Jordan can not get the question what is normal off of his chest. Normal is a relative term that is thrown around casually. The reason why Jordan decided to ponder this thought is because it just really followed him from now on whole concept of “normal “is because I caught myself always saying to my parents and various others in my life, “you are not normal”!

I would use this as a comeback when I was unhappy, but then I realized am I really normal and who am I to judge? Anyways is it good to be normal?
Is the person walking their dog normal? Is the guy mowing the law normal? Normal is what you make it to be. I think that everyone is just as normal as the person standing next to them. What makes someone normal is the clothes they wear, the street they live on, the religion they belong to, or there family. What do all of these external factors have to do with determining ones identity and if it is normal or not? What about internal characteristics of a person, ones threshold for pain, ones sensitivity, ones humor …what role does that play in determining ones identity?
There is not an answer to this question…everyone chooses to identify themselves differently. Is normal living in the big yellow house with a picket fence and having a golden retriever or a cat? I personally do not think I am normal; I like to think of myself as unique. I think that unique is a rather vague term although I would use that to identify myself. I was born and raised in Manhattan, most people from outside the New York World would call a family raising children in a city is not normal ,and then I would view someone in Kentucky with a farm raising children on farm not normal.
One day I was in the mall and I saw a Hasidic Jew wearing a hat and traditional garb, I overheard someone who was wearing a hat a huge chain and there pants hanging off their butt mutter “they are so weird what are they wearing “ ?

I then thought to myself again what is normal and who is this person to judge. Often others base “normal” on traditions that were passed down by family or culture.

When two people are getting married it is by tradition that the brides parents pay for the wedding. Is that really a normal tradition though, I certainly know plenty of people who would beg to
Differ. If the couple are two adults who are working and making money it isn’t normal for them to still rely on their parents, but then again
Who am I to judge? How does the concept of “normal” change based on progress through society? A hundred years ago what was considered to be normal is now laughed at. What one has to endure to be considered normal in today’s society is all relative based on where your niche is. Over the summer I made a friend from Greece and a friend from Paris, they were both in shock by how the men treat the women in America. In relation to where they are from and what they are used to that is not considered normal.

Johnny was always considered to be a “normal” boy. He was the type of kid who seemed as if nothing could ever bother him. I always wondered why he was the way he was. A boy who always wore a big smile on his face. Johnny had always been in the same grade as Jordan. They have been classmates since kindergarten and now they were entering high school together. Johnny and Jordan live in a really diverse area directly outside of Los Angeles, just shy of 20 minutes in a town called San Pasitina. Their neighborhood was very diverse and filled with people of all different religions and cultures. Jordan was one of five kids and was the middle child. He had two younger sisters and two older brothers. His sister’s names were Rebecca, Sara, and his brothers names were David and Jon. David was a junior in college at Yeshiva University. Jon was just started his senior year at Pasitina high. Jordan and Jon were really tight because they were so close in age. Jordan looked up to Jon, and in a way Jon felt obligated to be a good role model. Jordan idolized everything he did. Jon’s freshman year of high school he made varsity football. He was always considered to be the “star “of the family. He always looked up to the way Jon acted and how he always let everything role off of his back.
One day Johnny and Jordan were riding their bikes home from school when the road past a sandy path that they had never seen before. The path was pretty narrow and they were going to have a difficult time getting through on their bikes, but they figured why not give it a try. The path was right in the middle of all trees. The leaves that hung off the trees were orange and yellow because October was right around the corner. The air was crisp as the wind gently brushed their faces as they road down the path. Being adventurous as they always are and trouble makers that they had a reputation for being they decided why not and take a crazy chance? They had been racing down the path and quickly came to a halt when they saw a rainbow colored bird sitting in the middle of the road. This bird had feathers of all different colors. Their was something strange about this bird it was not like any other bird they had seen before. It was just sitting their in the middle of this sandy path staring at Jordan and Johnny with its piercing blue eyes. All of a sudden they heard a voice echoing
“Hello what brings you here”?
Johnny and Jordan looked at each other and both said
“What “
At the same time. All of a sudden it was like a bell went off in Jordan’s head he blurted out;
“The bird talks”.
They heard the voice again …… do you boys want to follow me I can show you something you have never seen before? Jordan and Johnny looked at each other and followed the bird as they got closer to this unknown place they began to notice the street was paved differently. The street was paved with each pebble being a different color. These pebbles became really hard for Jordan and Johnny to ride their bikes over. All of a sudden the bird had instructed for them to leave their bikes there. Jordan said
“Uh excuse me are you sure they won’t get taken, because we really have no other way to get home”…
.She replied;
First of all call me Lisa, and no this place is like no other you have ever experienced.”
“Things do not get stolen that doesn’t happen here ….just wait and you shall see, We pick once a year two people who go down this path to invite them on this adventure so you should feel honored. We feel that we want to expose people to the way that we live; with the belief that they will be so memorized they will spread it back to where they are from and have an desire to turn the whole world like the one we are in , it is our mission.”
“We have chosen you two because you are the youth and the youth is the most influential.
In this land every pebble that you have seen on the ground represents a different kind”.
“A different kind of what? “
Jordan and Johnny replied.
Lisa answered, “That is what you shall see, I can’t give it away quite yet, seek and you shall find.” Not only were the blocks rainbow but they were all different variations of colors, there could be over 1000 shades of purple in all the land. All of the Clouds looked like puffy rainbow marshmallows; each leaf on each tree was different. Jordan and Johnny could not believe what was before there eyes they had never seen such a remarkable place before but they wondered where the people were? Right now they felt like they were at the top of the world. Lisa had taken them to this spot with an amazing view where they could see the whole land. All of a sudden they heard singing.
As they listened closer it sounded familiar. They realized the singing was in all different languages. As they began to hear these wonderful songs being sung, they were confused.
“Why is everything a different color and why is everything a different language, what is this place? “
“See we live in a world very different to yours, in this world there is no violence, there is not discrimination, and most importantly everyone here is different and we celebrate our differences each and every day.”
“Wake up Jordan its time for school”.
Jordan opened his eyes and awoke to the sad reality that he was living in a dream.
Jordan blurted out
“Lisa who”? His mom replied.
” Has your father been doing something behind my back that I don’t know about? “
Who in the hell is Lisa?
Jordan thought to himself… am I really going to have to explain I was having a dream that I was in a prefect world, she would probably think that I am crazy.
As the week went on every little thing got to Jordan. Ever since that dream Jordan began to realize what a harsh world he lives in and how his surroundings is are the opposite of those he experienced in the dream.
As Jordan sat in math class he began to look around the classroom and wonder ….
Why are we the way we are? And even more importantly how does the teacher relate to 30 kids from such different places. But the reality is we all live in the same neighborhood but how we got here is a different story.
All of a sudden Jordan jumped on Johnny who had been sitting next to him the entire period and punched him in the face. Later Jordan was asked by the principal and his parents the same question why did you do that….its your best friend?
“He said the word “Yo chink” to Calvin….. The crazy thing is I just couldn’t control it… the punch just flew out of my hand” …I Realized that I have the power to make a difference now not only will Johnny never use that word again but neither will the rest of the class .

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