While in college, I had a button pinned to my purse (well, actually the WWII gas mask bag I used as a purse) that said “Why be normal?” It was my mantra. I had lived so many years trying to be straight and “normal” (well, Moonie normal), that I was compelled to do and be anything but normal.
These days there is still a part of me that wants to be on the far side of normal. That wants to be a bit different – to stand out in what I wear and how I look and what I do. That wanted a tattoo years ago, but wouldn’t get a tattoo now because everyone has one. That loves that my older child’s college roommate referred to me as a “badass” because of my “intense jewelry.” There is a part of me, there probably will always be a part of me, that is proud of the differentness in how I grew up and what I experienced. That will always say “I live outside of Philadelphia but I’m from the East Village of New York City.” Because that’s different, not quite normal, and me.
And there is also a part of me that revels in normal. In life being normal. In my life being normal. The normal that is the opposite of when things are going on and bad stuff is happening. The normal that exists in a happy marriage with wonderful children in a great community with amazing friends and family. Or the normal that comes at the end of a string of tough days, or incidents, or moments. The normal that you forget exists when you get caught up in the challenges you’re facing.
It’s easy to forget how wonderful “normal” is when you’re fighting through a hard time, or not feeling well. When you’re facing physical challenges, or supporting people who are facing physical challenges, you don’t remember what normal feels like and often don’t think you’ll ever feel normal again. When your daughter tells you she’s been diagnosed with TB and she’s over a thousand miles away and you don’t know yet that she’s fine (don’t worry, she’s fine), your world simultaneously implodes and explodes, and you don’t think life will ever be normal again. It feels like you’re on a fast, scary roller coaster ride – and you don’t like roller coasters. Or as if nothing will ever be right and you’ll be stuck battling battles and handling issues and challenges forever.
And then one day you wake up and feel normal. No one has a crisis. Crises that have already happened have blown over. Your body feels good. Your heart feels good. Your mind feels good. You feel…normal. And it’s really, really good.
That’s a normal I like. I relish. I cherish. I will probably always push against the norms of normal in some ways, but a simple, easy, normal day where the people I love are happy and healthy? I’ll be that normal any and every day.