At 14, after looking closely at a cow in a pasture I made a momentous decision. Despite its lovely lashes, I realized that behind the lazy cud chewing and outrageous eyelashes was a shoo-in for Normal. Don’t get me wrong; cows are okay. Unless you find a bale of hay exciting, they never really go anywhere you’d find particularly interesting.
Following my cow epiphany, I went on the run from Normal. Occasionally, I would hear others ask for Normal, praise, and give thanks when Normal was the star of their lives. Often, I wondered about these people and why were they seeking Normal. Normal isn’t challenging. It doesn't ask me to do my best. It certainly didn’t find its way to an illiterate blind healer who built a small village for a group of blind lepers and taught them to sing Bach a Capella. Normal didn’t sit at the table of poor fishermen who emptied their cupboards for a hungry stranger.
Normal often feels entitled to keep things on an even keel and isn't fond of passion. It shuns the difficult questions. Normal wouldn’t have heard firsthand the story of the man who put together a flotilla of taxis, old cars and school buses to save hundreds from being killed by a murderous group of soldiers.
Normal didn’t live in an all black low-income neighborhood in Los Angeles with crazy Corene two doors away. With her scarred face, false teeth, and pissy attitude hiding her generous heart, Corene loved to tease the neighborhood kids who thought she was a witch. She lent me cotton gloves to go dumpster diving for cans she recycled for a nickel per. I became her chauffeur and gave her avocado rights to the tree against my house. She brought me cheese from the Food Bank, a wicked sense of humor and a new awareness about what it’s like to never go through the front door of a white person’s house. Normal would have run away before any of these things could have happened.
As an older woman, I sometimes wish for Normal, but only for a few seconds when I’m very tired. Now that I have a few decent years in my sails, my non-normal Self has a new dance partner. His first name is indulgence, his name eccentric. He’s also a big fan of Non Normal. We do very well together. If I can’t go to sleep he escorts me outside to sit under the moon. He reminds me when I’m being too critical of my Self. We laugh when I wear my slippers to the market and take an afternoon nap on my bed. There are times we practice selective hearing, something that gets easier as you get older and something we have in common with teenagers. He applauds when I turn out a story. Sometimes, we’re loud, others quiet. We watch each other’s back.
I’ve traveled a long way from Normal and wouldn’t have the slightest idea of how to go back. Why would I want to? How about you?