Yeah, because we’re so totally normal

Emma Collins

Hey, y’all, how’s it going? It’s Saturday morning for you. I’m writing this in the bubble, trying to be social instead of squirreling away in my room like we mostly do when we want to write something. It’s weird to look out the window at the sun and think that’s the same sun that’s shining down on brunches in Brooklyn, on playgrounds in Cleveland, on beaches in San Diego. It’s also incrementally baking the human race alive, so…six of one, half a dozen of the other, I guess.

The funniest thing I read this week was a community post on Five Years arguing that we’re the first crew of truly “normal” people going to Mars. “Ironically, this specialized crew of writers are the first people I can really relate to. Maybe it’s just because they can express themselves, but they seem like a nice change from the square-jawed space heroes and noble, boring educators who usually get shipped off.”

Yeah, we’re normal, I guess. For sure the most different thing about us, compared to you back on Earth, is just that we’re here. Here’s some more irony, though: “normal” was never anything that any of us, I think, was ever called back on Earth. We had to board an inflatable spaceship to Mars to start seeming like, whatever, just normal folks.

Now that we’re here, we do everything we can to try to make our lives seem normal—like, Earth-normal. We have movie nights and snack on these salty chips that are the closest thing to popcorn we can make. We have what Rona calls “family dinners.” We make artificial nights and artificial days.

One reason I decided to go to Mars is that it seemed like when I lived on Earth, I was really just living on the Internet anyway. It seemed like the most important people in my life were my Internet friends—and you are, you are you are, but the longer we’re up here, the more I realize that I had a life on Earth too.

I still have my Internet life, and now I’ll have a new life on another planet—which is thrilling, and what I thought I always wanted—but I find myself thinking back on stupid things that I’ll never have again. Things like brunch on a patio, like having a whole house to myself, like losing myself in a crowd of people who don’t know who I am. Like bowling at a grotty old bowling alley, with shoes full of fungus and drinks that are weak but it’s all okay because you have someone to kiss.

I’ll have someone to kiss again, I know. Maybe someday my life on Earth will seem like a relationship that you don’t think you could ever live without until suddenly you realize that you can, and in fact you’re better off. Maybe someday I’ll look back on it like high school: so important at the time because it was all you knew, but in the grand scheme of things, really just a passing phase of your life.

The phase of my life that took place on Earth has passed, and I think I’ll get over it. Right now, though, I miss it. I want to hug it to me like a pillow wrapped in a t-shirt from a homecoming game that was lost years ago.

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Photo by Ginny (Creative Commons)