When in Rome

Sometimes, I dream in normal. I dress myself in jeans and a feminine cut shirt above my trendy socks. Nobody looks my way. When I take my kids to school, I smile to the teachers in the carpool line. (And the children, of course, go to public school, where they get average grades.)  Nothing makes me cry. No strange impulses bubble up to subsume my intentions. When I mold myself of normal, my eyes know just where to linger and for how long. My gaze is never out of place. I go to the movies and I don’t twitch with the need to shout at the screen. Nothing makes me yell. My voice is perfectly modulated, even in anger. My words are never thumbtacks.

But normal, whatever its range, doesn’t extend to my waking life. I was born slantwise to the world, and I can’t step in time no matter who calls the tune. So instead I pretend like I meant it this way. I act like those combustions that just erupted from my mouth amount to ideas, and I go forward as if to act on them. And then I do act. I pretend to enjoy being unlike.

I don’t hate it. When I curse and rail, which is often, it is not against the things that make me. It is, rather, against the people who want to unmake me. It is against the candy-apple world that fears biting into us worms. But when I dream, when it isn’t the nightmares consuming me again, it is of an unremarkable life free from extraordinary needs. I want to let someone else be different for awhile.

Still, I know that when I get out of bed, as surely as if I had reached for it, my body will assume the mantle. My feet will wind me a new corkscrew path. As soon as I open my eyes, I will be myself once more, and as always, I will be anything but normal.


We’re all acting a little normal over at Trifecta this week. I’m well aware that the second definition is “one that is normal”, and it always makes me antsy when I’ve got more than one definition in my piece, so I’ll draw attention to the overall idea here that there IS some kind of a standard to which we adhere, consciously  or not. And I’ll point out Merriam Webster’s third definition of standard, as well:: “something established by authority, custom, or general consent as a model or example.”

About jesterqueen:
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.


When in Rome — 16 Comments

  1. I’m in love with your descriptions—words like thumbtacks, life as a corkscrew path. it’s hard work being different isn’t it? But I have a feeling that at the end of the day, you wouldn’t have it any other way.

  2. I hate the norm.

    You dream in normal. That’s funny. Some would say I dream in technicolor. Or I dream in black and white. Or I dream in the past. But dreaming in normal. I wonder if normal people feel normal.

  3. This is awesome. I love the way you describe YOUR normal, and how you used the prompt word in both the opening and closing lines, both so appropriately!

  4. I don’t know that any of us are normal when we compare ourselves to everyone else. We all have our quirks. I agree with the other comments – your descriptions were great. I really like this line, “But when I dream, when it isn’t the nightmares consuming me again, it is of an unremarkable life free from extraordinary needs.”

  5. I love the back and forth approach in this piece. It dramatizes the inner conflict. Very nicely done.

  6. Seriously, Jessie? What is “normal” anyway? Some wispy social ideal? Revel in your abnormality. “Normal” is only a setting on your washing machine – nothing more.

  7. I wish I could dream ‘normal’, it’s funny how we all have this urge to fit in with whatever society wants us to be, even as adults. The problem is modern life has reduced us all to paper doll stereotypes and there’s too many of us marching to a different drum. It’s great when life forms a band around you and you can keep time together but otherwise, it doesn’t seem worth it on so many levels. Yet we, I still wish to fit in, to be that elusive normal. 🙂

  8. I love the “corkscrew path” which is definitely mine as well. I really like what Eric says above about normal only a setting on your washing machine. May have to use that line sometime. I gravitate towards people who are quirky and different because I see more than a little of me, in them. Loved dream vs. real life here.

  9. Great writing. Love it. We all feel that way much of the time. You are just so fortunate to be blessed with the ability to put those feelings into words.