Sunday, August 2, 2009
Standard of Normal
Alice: But I don't want to go among mad people.
The Cat: Oh, you can't help that. We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.
Alice: How do you know I'm mad?
The Cat: You must be. Or you wouldn't have come here.
Alice: And how do you know that you're mad?
The Cat: To begin with, a dog's not mad. You grant that?
Alice: I suppose so,
The Cat: Well, then, you see, a dog growls when it's angry, and wags its tail when it's pleased. Now I growl when I'm pleased, and wag my tail when I'm angry. Therefore I'm mad.
After telling someone I am normal they candidly ask me "what is the standard of normal?" Wow just when you think you are living a very ordinary life you stop to ask what is normal. I'm not hiding out from the law. I am not unable to get out of bed because of heartache. I am not sitting in my pajamas typing this, but I could be on any other given day, that's for sure. I didn't go to church this morning, elected instead to eat a bagel while listening to Gensis sing I can't dance, dancing all over, cleaning up the kitchen and planning on slow cooking some stuffed peppers.I want the whole house to smell good anticipating it and then sit down with Richie for a home cooked meal with a big salad out on the deck. Life is good, it's sunday and on sunday anything is possible.
So back to normal. Normal. It's not normal to miss someone you don't even know but it happens. It's one of those thoughts you keep a secret so people won't stop and wonder about you. I have a Best Friend so I have someone to share secrets with, pull them apart and then with her help glue them back together again. We do that for each other. Its not often I keep something from her and when I do she will always ask, "how long you been keeping this?" So she asks me this, this morning when I download yahoo messenger because we still yet do not have enough ways to contact one another. We are like Nasa, in constant communications. "A few days I tell her, no biggie." I wish she was here, we've spend endless Sundays with her doing one thing, me another in the same house, speaking and then not, eating together, chasing down something. One Sunday years ago I tried to dye her hair. I have my mother's hair, I can make it any color throw the box on it and it's all good, it never falls out, never turns a strange color, never ever ever. My mother had so many different hair colors that when you look through old albums you wonder if its really her. I tried red, may go back to it, red heads are dangerous and I haven't felt dangerous in awhile. Now, I am Artemis and I could use a little danger. So on a random Sunday I decide to dye the Q's hair. I left the stuff on too long, something I can't ever do to my hair because it doesn't care, and it turns white. What do you say? Oh gods, It's great. You lie. She knows when you lie, one look and she knows, I am horrible at it. "You lie. You fucked up my hair." I didn't know what to say, anything makes it worse. I'd offer to drive her to Ted's the next day, offer most anything and for the rest of the day she wears a hood over her head, not a good look for a tall blonde pygmy. She forgave me. She always does. I flip the pod over to Peter Gabriel:
Climbing up on Solsbury Hill
I could see the city light
Wind was blowing, time stood still
Eagle flew out of the night
He was something to observe
Came in close, I heard a voice
Standing stretching every nerve
Had to listen had no choice
I did not believe the information
I just had to trust imagination
My heart going boom boom boom
"Son," he said "Grab your things,
I've come to take you home."
I can hear the boom boom boom in my heart and the song makes my heart dance so much I need to throw my arms in the air. boom boom boom grab your things I've come to take you home. I type it out to her in messenger, her answer: "I'd come get you all over again, that's what friends do." I can think of years and years ago when we were both struggling and she'd call me to come get her to fetch a giant jar of change to take to turn in to pay the phone bill because her parents would not understand if they cut the phone. On the way home, smoking like a maniac, drinking diet pepsi, eating white castles, laughing getting in all the fun we could before her mom and dad showed up, before the ass clenching would start, before we'd have to be on our best behavior. Her father still looks at me sideways as when I was home for Christmas and they were putting a video in for the holiday, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" I made a comment to one of my nieces that this was the movie with the hot santa, the young one by the fountain romancing that girl who would be Mrs. Santa. Best Friend's dad turns to me and says, "Jesus Carrie it's a puppet," off mumbling. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Somewhere he is rolling his eyes right now. My heart going boom boom boom. A few visits ago, back home I'd take my niece Laura, my favorite of all the favorites to see her grandpa's grave. We were there alone and I could hear him say "Oh god she's driving, who allowed this to happen?" She shares her family with me, now I get to miss two dads. When I want to irritate her I will remind her that she's like her dad, the wandering adventurer, the family man until his last breath floated away, the orphan who took in anyone, any soul searching for family, me. Richie recalls him fondly as Grandma.
To keep in silence I resigned
My friends would think I was a nut
Turning water into wine
Open doors would soon be shut
So I went from day to day
Tho' my life was in a rut
"Till I thought of what I'd say
Which connection I should cut
I was feeling part of the scenery
I walked right out of the machinery
My heart going boom boom boom
"Hey" he said "Grab your things
I've come to take you home."
I think we are all normal and then we get bored or lonely or in a rut and we are thinking of ways to gun it, "up over that hill over there" and see what's on the other side. Today all the windows are wide open, I am super charged with life and ANYTHING is possible. Today, I am building the landing pad on the roof for the helicopter to fly Best Friend here for stuffed peppers and her pilot, oh he'd be handsome with dark eyes and he'd light a fire while we both just kinda wonder about him until we laid in bed all three of us pondering the universe listening to Peter sing to us, we'd tell him something we both know. We would share it, each with our own perspective. I'll let her giggle a little and tell the story (so I just hit messenger again and said, what's something we both know from two different angles, like the night greg showed up? she laughs and she'll think of something fast so I won't write about it) She'll tell her story of my first trip to New York to find adventure, with her parents monitoring my insanity and I will tell it my way, the innocence of it all. She'll laugh thinking of me spinning out of controlled control and I will recount the terror of it. She'll say "she's always the girl with the green cocktail dress in her hand needing a push." Later I'd tell a story to make her blush red red like her shirt and her heart.
Normal. Do I want the picket fence and the house ever so together? Sure, dont' we all? Do I want the kids gathering around at the holidays? No. I like it when it pops up, but I like parts of the dream of normal. It's when I see people so far on the fringe I get afraid and retreat to where is it safe wondering and gathering strength to climb Mt. Baldy. It's when I crave the center and the focus. When we kids we would go to visit my Aunt Rita and Uncle Al, both dead now for years. They lived in bridgeport where the streets sit above the sewer, but open to the sewer so you could go down there and explore a little my mother dressing me in some insane white dress always so the exploration would have to be even more of a secret.
I had a cousin named Jerry who lived there and his sister Kathy, she was my favorite aunt. She did the things I do as an aunt and I loved her dearly for it. Jerry was a larger than life personality, full of light and he loved life, ate it up. Being around him was fun as he was chatty, full of adventure, into Karate and things I'd never know about. When he'd talk about karate for awhile and we'd leave later my father would be driving, he'd turn to my mother and say "that jack ass thinks he could kick someone to death. One shot to his leg would fix that." Ha. The old man was nuts. There was a sunday afternoon when Jerry was showing us Karate in our living room and my father reached down under his chair and shot jerry in the leg with an air gun. He hit the ground writhing in pain my father laughing his ass off. As kids we were laughing, laughing the way we did when our deaf cousins would come over and my father would make up pretend sign language and they'd fall for it every time.
We we going to stand up to Jerry's wedding a wonderful girl named Maureen. She had red red hair and a lovely smile and pretty blue eyes. She lit up when he was around. I was going to wear this little pink dress and my brother a suit with a matching pink shirt, we'd stand up like we did for his sister and I kept the dress for a long long time marveling at the way it was made, knowing I'd only ever wear it once. We showed up, hell everyone did that Saturday morning in June, everyone but Maureen. She'd changed her mind, left a note, yes she left a note. I can't think of a more horrible situation and was reminded when reading DH Lawrence, women in love, a man this time leaving a woman at the alter to stand there alone and explain. Who does this? How does one do this? Hell I lived in hell for 8 years just to keep the yes I said at one time in tact, not to be the girl who would just leave. Now I'm not sure I wouldn't do that either and when Katie (my lovely niece got married) I reminded her moments before walking down the aisle that I had the car running outside.
When Maureen didn't show, Jerry fell apart. He didn't leave his parent's house, set up in the basement and quit his job. I'm not sure he quit, he just stopped going. He told people he had MS and that he was sick. I would think you were one MS karate kicking dude awhile back, did she leave you because of the MS? It was my mother in a tender voice who would tell me he didn't have MS, he made it up because he was full of melancholy. Wow. The power of love turned backwards. It happens. It can happen. I'll avoid that love thing I thought. Bukowski described love as a mad dog from hell. He may be right. Jerry started to collect guns, knives and for the remainder of his life, another 30 years he lived in that basement. We never saw him at weddings or funerals, the time our family gathers. He didn't make the family reunion, he was always "too sick." If they talked about him, the older family it was always in whispers and always he was a "whack job" or "so crazy." Every family has them and we had a few. I wonder about Maureen sometimes, if she knew that a change of heart had destroyed this man's life. I wonder if she could have loved him enough so that if she had left him years later he would have been Ok. Maybe it would have been worse and he would have eaten a bullet at his own hand. Normal.
I'd like to be in love again. Is that normal? I'd like to live to be just old enough not to wear out my welcome. I'd like to paint something soon that inspired me to paint something else. I'd like to miss someone but know in my heart they'd come looking for me. The knowing part makes me normal I think. People think flowers are normal but if you look at them closely, pull one apart, pull the pedals off a rose it's so spectacular you'd have to believe in God's presence. My mother would say, see that butterfly, it was a worm once, a horrid little worm. God had designs for that worm, imagine what he has in store for you? Imagine.
When illusion spin her net
I'm never where I want to be
And liberty she pirouette
When I think that I am free
Watched by empty silhouettes
Who close their eyes but still can see
No one taught them etiquette
I will show another me
Today I don't need a replacement
I'll tell them what the smile on my face meant
My heart going boom boom boom
"Hey" I said "You can keep my things,
They've come to take me home." - Peter Gabriel
I'm off to cook, make some jewelry, sing some, try to figure out how to rearrange the living room. I need to clean out the fridge before Best Friend gets here, she will worry about me if there is some crazy old food in there and crazy old food LOVES to live there. I'd like her to think that even when I am spinning, when I am worried, when I am not sure where I am in the world that I am afterall, just normal. Seize the day.
You can always find me at firstname.lastname@example.org and my work at poetsummer.etsy.com.