One Person’s Normal is Not the Same as Another’s

Something almost nobody “gets”…
…so I guess it should be said somewhere, at least once….

There are periods of normalcy.

There are blocks of time when
clean laundry appears,
the vacuum is run,
the faint smell of cleaning products hangs in the air,
full lunch boxes sit on the counter,
waiting to be grabbed as we head out to school,
snacks greet us when we return,
gladiolus is in the garden,
friends can come over to play
and it’s safe to ask Mom how her day has gone.

Supper is promptly at 5,
and when the fire whistle blows,
which it does at 5 every day,
we better high-tail it home,
wash hands and take a seat at the table.

* * *

we operate pretty much the way
other families appear to operate
with one slight difference:
We know it won’t last.

We know
no matter how wonderful things are,
at any moment –
next week, tomorrow, 30 minutes from now –
it can all change.
And, what’s more, it will.

We don’t hear my mother humming a lovely tune and,
based on that,
go make big plans for the next day. No.

I try not to speak for my siblings, but I suspect we all had – at very early ages – a well-developed sense of the tenuousness of things. We knew not only that things could change, but also that they would. The only question was “when?”

* * *

WE PASS THROUGH periods of normalcy,
but we travel the path
carrying a weight of anxiety.

And it’s that sense of imminent and unpleasant change
that makes one person’s normal
very different from another person’s normal
At the very least,
it makes difficult
the ability to enjoy things,
what with waiting for the other shoe to drop and all.
It’s almost a relief when it does.

* * *
I’m attempting to write this series in first-person present, anecdotally, but every so often I feel the need to step back and make an observation like this one. Read more in this series HERE.

About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
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