To Be Determined, Chapter Five: Normalcy
So there I was, heading to the DMV in Manhattan, Herald Square. I step off the train and go to the corner its by (its a new place and there is construction everywhere so I’m standing there sort of looking around a little lost and searching. I’m turning in my CA drivers license for a NY one. I know, I know. Crazy. It’s almost like giving up my identity…see how I did that? I mean, I’ve had a CA license since I was 16–that’s almost twenty years ago by now. I’m sort of attached to it, even though it’s been renewed a few times over the years, the picture gets retaken, now it says I wear glasses or corrective lenses, and the weight I admit to being fluxuates with a “give-or-take 25 pounds. Shut up. SO, My headphones are in, my hair and make up is “done” after all it’s picture day. I have on my new lipgloss (Mary Kay’s Fancy Nancy, love it). I’m in jeans dressed with a coat, it’s wintery there’s gloves. Etc. You get the picture. So I’m standing there a little lost and a guy approaches me, he clearly work for the Empire State Building selling tickets and the like and I immediately think he’s a kind guy willing to give me directions, so I take the headphones out of my ears. He is youngish, bright blue eyes and just says “excuse me, are you single, married, or in love?” I’m so thrown off that I just answer it: “single.” He then goes to tell me how beautiful I am. That he’s sorry to approach me, he wasn’t trying to scare me, but how could he not with how I look. –I’m still caught off guard and just say “ok.” He then asks “why are you single.” And I’m instantly That Girl. Reminds me of a book I read once called How To Be Single. This exact question is addressed. I laugh off his question and it isn’t until later I think of saying something like “haven’t found the right guy.” But that’s cheesy, probably often said, and again I didn’t think of it until later. Much later. And this guy asks if I live in NY–yes. Then he asks if he can have my phone number. He’s like to talk to me more but he’s working, clearly I am heading somewhere and he doesn’t want to risk not ever seeing me again. I find that flattering, and agree. Still a bit confused as to what just happened. And there I am giving out my phone number to a stranger I met organically on the streets of Manhattan.
–Now, this story would’ve continued to be great had the following not happened: a few hours later, after my three hour tour to the DMV , I’m in class then I’m out of class a couple hours later. By this time I have a question from him, something like what is my nationality. So I answer the best I can, as I usually answer. Then he asks the kind of guy I normally date. I don’t know what he means. Turns out he wants to know what race of men I’ve dated. I hesitate and then just say something along the lines of although all kinds of men can be attractive, I am not necessarily attracted to them. I typically go for the white guy with light eyes. (But we all know I’ve dated outside of this “type”). He then says “I’m just curious” if I’ve ever dated a black guy. –I have no idea where this is going but I’m sure I won’t like it. I hesitate again, then text this:
Why are you curious about this? Is this the normal now? Guy walks up to a girl says she’s pretty gets her number then asks about her dating history? Sigh. smh. yes–I have.
To which this guy–Charles, is his name– writes “something like that lol jk. oh nice…interracial is so hot and kinky, how was the sex?”
My response: Alright. We’re done now. Thanks for the compliment earlier. You can move on.
Then they guy simply responds, seemingly surprised at *my* reaction with, “Wow, I was just wondering.
Now–Why is this okay? Why is THIS the normal? Or is it? I really hope it’s not. I’d like to think this was just a special inappropriate moment hand made just for me so I could roll my eyes at yet another man disappointing me. And how is it that *I* deserve the response of “wow.” ??? You know what, guy–I’m single because garbage comes out of the mouths of guys like you, who appear “normal.” It’s none of your business. You spoke with me for all of five minutes. Is this the kind of behavior and conversations we’re heading towards now? Have we already been here for awhile and I just missed it? And more importantly, what steps can I take to insure this won’t happen again. I just can’t be bothered. I may not necessarily *need* to be courted, but the etiquette in courting is lost. Just…lost. And it’s a shame. Because this guy has either done this before–and it works, which is what awarded *me* the “wow” or he is just that balls-out-natalie, in which case perhaps he’s learned a lesson. I have no idea. What I know, is where I come from, you don’t talk to me like that. Is it super offensive? no. The content is not, but the…I don’t know…the nerve? of this guy? It’s just stupid.
Cambridge online dictionary tells me the definition of Normal: ordinary or usual, as would be expected.
At the moment he asked me that I felt my space was invaded. It felt like my life, my past was being invaded. It’s not an appropriate topic with someone I’ve just met. It’s not approached in what I would deem an appropriate way to be approached. And for a brief moment I thought about the kind of person that asks these questions. I thought about what could possibly be going through their mind that it’s okay? And for a moment I was trapped between trying to figure him out and standing up for myself. He wasn’t necessarily attacking me, but…for me he was inappropriate. Then my mind wandered beyond my brief encounter to why I chose the word “trapped.” Why had it become necessary for me to figure it all out instead of just moving on. And (this all happened in seconds by the way, he didn’t take up too much of my time or my life hahah), then I thought: If this was four years ago I would’ve answered him point blank without a care. Because I didn’t care. Because four years ago I was trapped in a different kind of cycle where a question out of the blue like that would’ve been a fast change from my current Level of Normalcy. And at that time it may have been a great escape. And as my life progressed, as life happened to me without my control or opinion, I had decided that THAT…wasn’t normal. Or, it was My Normal and I didn’t like it.
Two years ago, I was trapped. Trapped in a job I hated, in a relationship that hurt my heart. and others? They are Trapped out on the streets. Trapped inside the room, the hospital room, the bedroom, the cubicle. Trapped as a parent, Trapped as a child, as a teenager. Trapped in the constant sequential battle that is your schedule regardless if you say you like your job and your classes, you have no social life. If you like everything that’s going on–are you trapped in an untouchable place where the rest of us just think you’re lying anyway because no one could be THAT happy with their life. No one is just Passionately Content. Or–are they? And if that’s their normal, who am I to judge? I mean, those celebrities splashing thousands, hundreds of thousands, thousands of millions, on their Life and most of us claim poverty level for net income during tax season, am i right? but THAT IS their normal. Who am I to say that the celebrity life is any less normal, than mine, or that mine is any less normal than say a homeless person?
It’s because the day-in-and-day-out, seems to be, what classifies us into our levels of “normalcy.” And we can spend time and money trying to change that, or define it otherwise, or wish otherwise, or judge otherwise, but the truth is My Normal is to sleep in my bed alone at night with a sheet and three blankets with the window cracked open and the heater on. (Shut up, balancing heat in a NY apartment is difficult). And to some people their normal, their Truth is that they sleep in a borrowed bunk bed rooming with a stranger and neither may know how they got there, or how they’ll get out. Their truth is tomorrow may be better, could be the same, could be worse. But–isn’t that true for all of us? No? Well, I suppose money has an ENORMOUS way of weighing into our lives. there is the Truth that there are some out there who get on private planes often, they get dressed up in a costume with make up and they tell someone else’s story, someone else’s truth–and they get paid for it. While some of us save for a plane trip home so we don’t have to get dressed up or pretend to be someone else (like that professional version of you at work), and we bask in the simplicity of honoring the truth of just being tired of putting on that show day in and day out.
There are truths. There are beliefs. There are faiths. There are faults. There are ups and downs
And who am I to sit next to someone and ask their story and think for a moment I’m doing THEM a favor, when its me doing myself a favor and reminding myself that we’re just human. We’re just people. Celebrities (as my mom has always said) are just…people. They live their life, we live ours.
Then…why is it, that I get so caught up in searching for a normal feeling? Why am I unable to actually describe or define it. Was that guy coming up to me on the corner and paying me a compliment a normal day for me? No, not really. Is it normal to order the same coffee at the same coffee house on the way to my job? Sure. Well WHY do I feel *more* normal if I’m NOT doing those things??
I think it’s human interaction that reminds us…well…me of what normal is. The act of walking over to the coffee house is out of habit, it’s become part of my day-in-day-out professional version of myself. But the exchange of greeting and speaking to another human reminds me I’m normal. I think. And I think when those moments start to become habitual, is when I seek out a different kind of normal.
oooo. That’s fun. A Different Kind of Normal.
For years I lived paycheck to paycheck. Spending money I didn’t have yet and my check clearing the bank just in time to have payments out clear the bank. And all I wanted was a job I liked, so I could pay my bills and actually Live my life, not just Survive it. For years The Struggle was My Normal. which eventually brought on anxiety and depression, and My Normal also had to be medicated for a while. For years my definition of relationships was “someone to be with, and it shouldn’t be work.” And because that wasn’t specific enough, the ideals and rules of that vagueness (got that? rules of vagueness…) caused damage to my heart and my body and my mind. And I was told those relationships were not normal. So then I become on the hunt, or the search for a Normal Relationship, the problem is I hadn’t finished getting to My Normal. I was still a mess–a hot mess, as it were. My expectations could never be met by someone else because I could not meet my own for myself. And That’s The Truth of My Normalcy.
And now, I’m older (wiser, and I use cliches and everything) and I *feel* normal because I get up, go to work or class, come home and sleep. I pay my bills on time. I have money to buy food. I’ve gained back the weight I loss (damnit) from when I was living on ramen and coffee during The Struggle, but I’ve also realized I’m okay with this. It’s part of who I am, until I decide I want to change it.
The Problem Now is–and there always seems to be a problem, no matter the size they exist–I want something More. Or something Else. and it’s when that happens, or this feeling that creeps up on me that my habits and routine and normalcy get put In Check. This is when Life sends me a challenge. Whether it be emotionally, physically, or mentally. I feel the tug at my heart but it’s not focused. I feel my eyes searching around the faces, but I see no one. I attempt to engage is something, and it feels…fake. Is …that…normal? Is The Fake in the form of some mirror Life holds up to me in order to put me In Check? And so I search.
And then, one day–I see. I see the faces, I hear the music, and this time it makes everything slow down. Like in a movie where everything goes to Slow motion–like that. I feel my heart tug, I see the face and hear the music–and then…I walk by it…ignoring it. Only now it rotates in my head on repeat and I have to decide what my next move is. How do I step out of my comfort zone, my normal-ness?
Just, take a chance.
That’s what changes it up. That is what pulls or pushes you out of the Normalcy of Your Day in and Day Out. That is what reminds you you’ve stopped. The Action of A Risk. The unsure-ness (probably not a word) of an outcome brought on by the pang or knocking on your heart or soul, or whatever, that IF you take this risk, THEN it could change Your Normal. And is that really so bad? Can’t just want to be a better person, you have to DO something better. You can’t just want the good job, you have to pursue it. You cannot just let life happen to you, you have to happen to It. So, I can’t be too pissed off at The Guy who took a risk on asking for my number, but I don’t have to succumb to his questions because he may think the conversation topic is normal–it’s just not My Normal.
And when you step out of Your Normal-ness, remind yourself not to move up in the world, but move forward–this way, what you have already in your past will be a reminder of how far you’ve come and because it is on the same level as you, you may remain grounded. It will remind you of The Risk and The Action. Hopefully it will remind you that you are just as human as the next guy and that it’s okay to recognize different definitions of Normalcy–and should you need to measure these definitions I bid you a flexible measuring tape.
Just remember, Normal means usual–but it doesn’t mean Your Normal is My Normal. Your Truth is different than My Truth, but Our Normal? Our Truth? Well that remains: To Be Determined.