I never thought being “normal” would have its setbacks.
Actually, I probably always thought the idea of normal existed out there, floating around in space like a satellite you can’t quite pin down as it circles you. But that’s what it’s become in this world.
nor·mal – the common, the mundane, the ideal
Since when do we strive to be normal? Since when do we sit down in front of a television set and pray we might see ourselves reflecting back on that screen?
It’s easy, isn’t it?
Hoping, wishing, praying you’ll see some small part of your little sister in that sitcom you watch every Thursday night at 8 p.m.
Isn’t that why you watch? To think that some part of your life, albeit small, is right here in this world for the rest of society to giggle at on their own sofas, wrapped up tight under blankets?
I’m afraid, deathly afraid, that it is.
See, I’m a writer. And my life’s always fallen on the bad side of normal. The boring side of normal.
I’d have to invent a whole life out of thin air if I ever wanted to write a memoir of my childhood.
Some kids sat in closets where the sun couldn’t scald their too-pale skin. They hid from ruthless parents and step-parents in cupboards beneath basement staircases. They holed up inside their rooms with the video game soundtrack turned up loud enough to block out a screaming match in the kitchen.
But for me, there was no screaming match, no basement hideaway, no video game console at all. There was just a little girl, too messy to fit into the gender role the world cut out for her, walking a tightrope between Absolutely Normal and Utterly Bizarre.
And oh how I wanted to fall on the latter side of that line.
I’d write introspective comments in my diary when I was thirteen, trying to understand the harshness of the world. I’d look back on being bullied in fourth grade and pray it might shape me into someone worth loving for all her flaws.
Please, dear God, anything to write about when I’m old and gray. Give me some ailments. A bad back, a troubled childhood, a spellbinding experience in the forest behind my house.
I wish someone would shake me and tell me this: there will be plenty of moments, when you’re older, when you’ll pray so hard your head hurts. You’ll want Normal back like that pair of sneakers you gave to Goodwill last summer. You’ll want it back like the last bite of the ice cream cone you threw in the trash can.
There will be so many moments for you to feel real and to hurt and to scribble down in that journal of yours. So many raw experiences to tear through that healthy human heart and make it beat twice as fast on any given Sunday morning when you’re dressed up for a funeral.
Don’t you dare, little girl, think you’ve got nothing to write about. It’ll come.
Oh, it’ll come in floods some day.