Thursday, March 21, 2013

White Picket Fences

"Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal." 
                                                                                               --Albert Camus

There are five states in the US with towns by the name of Normal.
  • Normal, Illinois
  • Normal, Indiana
  • Normal, Kentucky
  • Normal, Tennessee
  • Normal, Alabama
My question is this:  Can anything in Alabama be classified as "normal?"  OK, fine, that isn't my question.  What I DO want to know is what these town founders were striving for when they decided that THEIR town, above all others, was just going to be run-of-the-mill ordinary?

I know people who strive for perfection.  They reach for that Golden Ticket of the American Dream.  They desire for every one of their children to be freshly scrubbed, their lawns to be immaculately clipped, fertilized and weeded and their spouses to be beyond reproach.  They want to blend in by being perfect.  Well, let me tell you somethin', sister:  perfect isn't normal and you aren't blending in. 

I live JUSTONTHISSIDE of crazy town so, to me, normal is an unreachable goal.  I always say it's fortunate I didn't have girl children because I guarantee they would be the most unkempt children in the school with wild hair unbrushed, mismatched socks and ridiculous wrinkled outfits pulled out from behind beds or books or pets.  I forget appointments and I say stupid things.  I hurt feelings and I almost always forget to floss unless I have an upcoming dental appointment...which I only remember because that AWESOME Brenda always gives me a call (on all my numbers) the day before my cleaning.  I mow my lawn when you could easily lose a gnome in it and I think about weeding when you can no longer see the other plants.  My house is messy more often than I'd like and those darn white kitchen floors always look like a dirty-footed shoeless village has walked through it. In short, I am a walking disaster.

But I DO have a picket fence!

Things 2, Me and the tiny Sparky with the PICKET FENCE in the background.

Please note, however, that MY picket fence is not white:  I am shy of the mark EVEN in this small effort to be normal.  If it WAS white, it would be chipped and fading with missing fence posts.

Here's the thing, though:  Who WANTS that life?

As chaotic as my house can be, it is filled with laughter.  The kids are (sadly) unafraid to make BIG messes.  My kitchen table has been used over the years as a backdrop for art projects and I adore every single paint mark and scratch on it.  If they want to see what happens when you drop an egg on the floor...well, we drop an egg on the floor.  When my kids were little, I filled the rooms with little tents for them as a way to make them see the world as a kind of a wonderland, filled with new adventures around every corner. Now that they're big, we sometimes run through the house waving our hands in the air like lunatics and screaming.  Just because. (You'll be right over, right?)

I never wanted normal.  I honestly never thought I'd get married and I REALLY never thought I'd have kids.  When I was young, I wanted to be the first female president of the United States (fortunately for me, that job is still open; unfortunately for the country, I don't want that job).  I never imagined my wedding and I counted the days/weeks/months/years between dresses.  I think I managed to get my whole 5th and 6th grade years in without wearing a dress once.  I avoided the color pink and I tried not to shower or brush my hair if I could get away with it.  I was a staunch Gloria Steinem feminist when I was about 10 years old.  I was not a normal child.  

I have softened over the years.  I don't see pink as a weakness anymore AND have even purchased a few items of pink clothing for myself.  Yes, I was 40 when it happened but that just means we all have room to grow.  But even with my softening, I still embrace my quirks and the oddities of my kids.  I seek out people who are smart and funny who don't have this burning need to "fit in."  I READ the "Dick and Jane" books.  They were paper people.  But those kids in The Cat in the Hat?  Now, they were magic.

Life is far too short to be worried about fitting in and being "normal."  My wish is that all the people with the white picket fences don't freak out too much when the paint starts peeling.  Hey, here's a thought: paint it pink!


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