Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Memories of a disaster

The other day, I came across an article online from The Paris Review - an oral history of the disaster at Chernobyl in 1986 and it's aftermath.. It's gripping stuff...the opening section is positively heartbreaking in it's emotional impact and it just sets the frame for the rest of it...

My memories of Chernobyl, the worst industrial accident of the 20th Century in it's human and natural toll, are rather dim. The spring of 1986 wasn't particularly good for me. That was when my parents seperated enroute to their eventual divorce. Moreover, I was having a particularly rough time in school around them, as this was the very height of the "let's all pick on Trevin" stuff that went on for a few years. I was pretty friendless at the time, spending miserable recess periods sitting on a metal sewer grate and crying. Without a doubt, the lowest point I have ever been at in my entire life. I consider myself lucky that I survived that period, emotional wounds, psychological scars and all.

That being said...I actually do remember hearing about Cherynobl at the time. I remember that there were some rumors on the news about a nuclear accident in the Soviet Union, but that the Soviets were denying anything was wrong. Then the Fins started complaining about radiation levels in the Laplander parts of the country and the Soviets couldn't hide it any longer. Once again...a disaster was made worse because of paranoia over outside reaction (much like China and the SARS outbreak). I remember that around this time, there were incredible sunsets...which I was told was a direct result of the meltdown half a world away.

I find it interesting that I remember so much from back then, despite what was going on to me. You'd think that my memory of things that didn't really "involve" me would be largely missing. And yet...instead, they're quite intact. I have vivid memories of the Challenger accident that January (but then again...who my age doesn't?), for example. *shrug* Something to think about, I suppose.


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