Okay Ordinary

My life is generally . . . often . . . usually . . . quite ordinary. And I have come to the realization that ordinary is . . . okay.

I have a typical home with typical trimmings – front door, back door, kitchen, garage, deck, bedrooms, bathrooms. I own no pets, grow no plants, have no secret passage ways, and no moat. I organize my closet according to color first, then season. I keep all my super secret stuff in a folder marked super secret – because it is so much easier to find super secret stuff that is filed properly. I steer clear of food that comes with expiration dates; and, am an avid collector of nothing other than dust. I make my bed everyday before leaving the house, and my late night snack is cheap, easy air popped popcorn. A most ordinary life.

On work days, I have an ordinary commute – a 14.2 mile / 17 minute one way cruise that includes three stop lights and one stop sign – total. (I could pare those stops down if I took the back roads.) The ordinary commute comes with a routine. Every morning, I eventually meet up with the same car-driving coffee klatch crowd. There is the Dodge Caravan man who gives me the head nod and the lift-the-fingertips off the steering wheel wave . . . the blue Buick lady with the gracious, soulful arm gesture who occasionally touts the horn. And, of course, the crazy-funny college kid in the beater mobile with blaring music, who just turns and smiles. He’s cool – and the coffee klatch knows it. Me? I practice the Queen Elizabeth raise my left arm at the elbow, thump pointing towards my shoulder with a slight motioning of the hand and a randomly added left eye wink. Really, all the second stop light group has to do is to add a little Sister Sledge, and suddenly we would be one big ordinary family.

And the landscape along the way? It’s ordinary with . . . admittedly . . . a chaser of interesting.

First, I live in farm country where there are acres and acres and acres, miles and miles and miles of corn and soybeans everywhere. One month it’s green and growing. A couple of months later, it’s brown and dry. Planting to harvesting, it’s the same each year. Has been for hundreds of years. In the spring, it’s called the green wave – a term of endearment characterizing its ordinary beauty.

However, in terms of ordinary / not-so-ordinary, that doesn’t explain why there is a random, twenty-foot, replica of an authentic Native American tee-pee peeking out on the edge of one of those nearby farms; nor does it explain the meticulously maintained, privately owned – but publicly used – deluxe cement-finished roadside tables, complete with a paved turn-about near mile four. Their use is sporadic, but the folklore factor they add to the commute is all worth it.

Again, it’s ordinary in an unusual way.

Which can also describe the local theater. Near the commute’s five-mile mark, in a large open farm field sits an AMC Showplace 10 movieplex. Surrounded by corn and soybeans, it’s a busy, hometown place with pleasant, hospitable employees, complete with a giant, highly visible SHOWPLACE marquis, an ample parking lot, and a great free refill policy on all popcorn and drinks. A typical, ordinary theater . . . sorta.

Because lately, commuting past the theater at night at the end of an ordinary workday has been a comedic highlight. Whether caused by a short in the system or by a big time Scrabble game on the part of some very humorous employees, the movieplex’s marquis illumination changes daily. Sometimes it says SHOWPLACE and sometimes it says SOWPLACE, or HOWPLACE or OWPLACE or SHOW ACE or my favorite SHOW LACE. An ordinary theater with a crazy-funny attitude.

The Mattoon AMC Showplace Ten

My Local Ordinary Movie Marquis!

Finally, the commute route passes by the local airport – most ordinary at first glance . . . and probably second glance, too. It has hangers, runways, a ten foot protective fence to keep the deer either in or out depending on which way they are jumping, and manicured grounds. Big jumbo jets are a rarity there, with private and charter planes commonplace. The on-site restaurant attracts its fair share of daily guests and serves the famous tenderloin as big as an elephant ear. It’s an ordinary local airport . . . until, that is, July 4th rolls around.

For on July 4th, the airport shuts down . . . completely . . . to prepare for one of the most deluxe fireworks celebrations found anywhere this side of the Mississippi. Town folks use a free shuttle bus system to haul out family, friends, buckets of fried chicken, coolers of drinks, lawn chairs, blankets, and bug spray. Everyone sets up camp on the east runway tarmac hoping for a glorious view of the fireworks exploding on the west runway tarmac. All planes for the day are simply re-routed to other nearby airports, I suppose. I am not really sure. I am also not sure of what happens to potentially stranded passengers. Perhaps they are sent via train to the next nearest airport not hosting a fireworks display. All I know is that planes don’t arrive or depart on July 4th. The airport is on holiday.

And for good reason. It really is the perfect place for thousands of people to gather for late evening festivities. After all, airports are nothing more than giant parking lots with lights. And here in Central Illinois, it is just an ordinary solution for a traditional American celebration.

Living in a house with no secret passageways and no moat, with a commute through corn and soybeans surrounded by tee-pees and cement roadside picnic tables, seeing the movie theater that has entered some type of marquis spelling bee, and passing the airport where I have been part of the runway loungers watching fireworks on the fourth may seem odd and unusual to some, but to me, it’s just a part of my average, run-of-the-mill, humdrum, typical ordinary life. And as I stated earlier . . . it’s okay, really okay!