Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Am I Normal?

It's happening again.

Recently I had to get a new car (it's a long story) but I don't like it. It rides too smooth and turns with ease. I miss my old Plymouth Duster with no front brakes, a broken speedometer and a leaky roof. I want it back. I feel like it was an extension of myself, something that had been to hell and back and still survived. I named my new car Karen. She is a sleek and shiny '02 Ford Taurus with no dings or dents. She hasn't been through any hardships. She also yells at me to put my seat belt on or when the keys are still in the ignition. I'm a big girl Karen, I don't need your help.

We don't get along. Naggy, bitchy Karen. I miss April and her crooked headlights.

I've also started a new job in the last 2 weeks. The job itself is fantastic, I'm already falling in love with the kids I work with. Adolescent drug addicts tend to get a bad rap, and I'm their confidante as well as their advocate. One teacher I met on the first day said, "Hello! So how do you like working with the druggies?" "Oh I'm sorry," I replied, "I don't know any druggies. Did you mean students?" Burning bridges? I don't care; the kids deserve better.

I see so much of myself in these kids. Their backgrounds, their struggles, their suffering. I see my 14 year old self fighting tooth and nail for some dignity or proof that I am worthy of something. For a chance to be myself. For anything.

But in the last two weeks I've changed. I have a shiny new car, a name-tag, and professional clothes that I wear to an 8-5 job. I'm now a productive member of society. I belong to the group of statistics that labels me a "success" as opposed to my childhood label of "high risk". I've been stamped, categorized, and approved. Domesticated. Like a caged animal.

It's my worst nightmare; people looking down on me with white coats and smiling faces, "There we go, now isn't that easier?" They stare at me like a child. "See how nice we are when you stop fighting? Just follow the rules and life will be easy. Trust us, we know what's best for you." They've fixed me. They hand me a blue ribbon with a smiley face and the words "First Prize: Submissive and Obedient".

I hate it. I yearn for the day when I could run away from home. Hitchhike my way to another city, feel the wind run through my fingers, the rain in my hair and just be alone. Funny how running away when you're an adult is more difficult than when you were a child. Responsibility, rather than authority, ties you down.

In all honesty, I ache for a chance to get out. For a chance to feel like myself again. To feel any sense of adventure and defiance in order to convince myself both characteristics haven't completely deserted me. I feel like a sell-out. Trapped. Condemned to a life of order because the logical side of my brain has convinced the wild side that a life on the road would be less desirable.

But I still want it.

I see the black pavement laid out before me each day on my way to work, and the urge to just keep driving is always there. It doesn' matter where to, I just want to drive. To leave. To feel like I am still in control. To feel like I am still free.

Maybe I'm weird.

The only thing holding me here is my boyfriend. While he doesn't understand, he is still supportive. When I said I was going to Italy, his first question was, "When?" instead of "What? Why?" He knows my need to run is overwhelming, but he doesn't question it. He is also aware of my deep seated fear of being tied down, which is why he has stood by me when others pressure us to get married or buy a house. He is the only thing I have never had the urge to run from.

The view out my window only shows house after house, with neatly trimmed hedges and large cottonwoods strategically planted 50 feet apart. Kids play, dogs bark, old men water their lawns. It is peaceful.

Am I such a horrible person not to want this? Not to yearn for the day when I push a stroller up the sidewalk while comfortably jogging to a familiar mix of songs on my IPod? Or to save my money for a new camera or Rosetta Stone instead of hair treatments and shoes? To excitedly look forward to the day when I am backpacking around a live volcano instead of planning family BBQ's around one of my children's birthdays?

Am I being selfish? I don't feel unappreciative of what I have, but am I acting like it?



  1. Actually, I think many people feel this way but are too scared to actually DO it. Because after so many people get in these ruts it's very hard to get out and many seem miserable! I've been in a similar situation where you feel like a sell-out and very "not you" but I reminded myself DAILY that it was temporary, that I am still young and have plenty of time to travel and that it was what needed to be done at the time to help me survive (and in your case, those students).

    Cheers and chin up doll: it won't last forever unless you choose for it to.


  2. Be who you are. Funny, passionate, honest. Each of us should use the circumstances of our past (good and bad) to help others improve the circumstances of their futures. A name tag, fancy 'new' car and dress up clothes won't change your ability to do that.

  3. Hi Marlee -

    Thank you for your sweet comment and following my blog. I just wanted to let you know that I am returning the favor as your newest follower! :)

    GOOD. FOR. YOU. (on your positive attitude working with the adolescents). I admire what you said to that woman. (I'm a counseling student, myself - well on hiatus since the move - but a couple more classes and I shall have my Master's - SOME day...).

    And you're not being selfish. There's no shame in wanting more and dreaming big! :) I look forward to hearing/reading more from you!

  4. Wow! This sounds like me 20 years ago! I moved with my boyfriend, later husband, over 15 times in 20 years. We both loved change and had a fear of being tied down somewhere.
    In our younger days we hitchhiked from San Diego to Oregon and back twice! I loved the feeling of the open road, the unknown, no responsibility and no rules existence! It was exhilarating, exciting, spontaneous.....and also, cold, hungry and scary!
    Over the years there were many days, fewer now as I get older, that I longed for those carefree days again.
    But, I always wanted children and you can only move them so many times in their younger years and then you have to stop moving. Which we did. They needed stability and we provided that.
    Now they are grown and I find myself wanting to move around again. To feel the unchained existence that only pushing a shopping cart full of belongings can bring!

  5. Oh, I meant to say...I LOVED your post. You write beautifully and with feeling and I read every word!

  6. You've pretty much written everything I've every wanted to write about my life here. I'm currently conducting my own form of rebellion against my own life rules just to check I still exist. I can't offer any advice, just a sense of similarity.

  7. I don't have kids and have long abandoned that wish, mainly because I have a body that won't provide it. And I have to say.... it's good. I can go on those trips and enjoy the vacations, I've walked to the top of a volcano and on a glacier. Don't give up on what you want, keep your spirit free, but yes.. we need some routine (to pay the bills). Eh, it's part of life unless you are independently wealthy ;)

    Congrats on the new job - good for you and wow - What a fantastic job!! You're going to do awesome helping those kids!

    And I have to laugh about the car. I'm selling my little sweet car, 2003 Chevy Malibu and less than 58,000 miles on her. (I don't drive much, but I love to travel, go figure :)

  8. Being "normal" is overrated... and really, what is this thing we call "normal"? It changes from person to person, society by society. I have yet to meet someone everyone would categorize as "normal".

    Also, as I've heard many times while growing up, "Well behaved women rarely make history."

    I say take hold and fully own who you are, and who cares about what others think :-)

  9. Great job sticking up for your students. They should be able to have someone to stick up for them. :)

    I'm your newest follower from the hop. :)

  10. Love your Suzy Homemaker picture. Does she know she's feeding her family Poison? Things have changed, sweetie. I'm 52, six kids. they've been down the Grand Canyon, up Mt. Kiliminjaro, hiked Hadrian's Wall. Plus we have international kids living with us every summer. A house can be a refuge for the needy, too. Should the Lord bless you with kids it's because he wants you to raise them, not Suzy Homemaker. And yes, I drive a mommy van, but mostly, we bike.

  11. Thanks for following, and I'm following back! You know, some of us who had kids and are tied down wish we had that freedom at times. Be who you are whether its what "they" say it should be or not.
    And I'm so thankful for your response to the other teacher. When you treat the students as people rather than statistic, the chances are so much better!

  12. GREAT post -- you're a terrific writer. Bravo.

  13. meant to add, found you via the friday blog hop and glad to be a new follower; always a treat to find engaging posts.

  14. You're not selfish at all. I feel like that bunch of times. I would just like to leave everything and go. Just go! We are just that kind of people.. But I don't see anything bad in it, I love the way I am.

  15. hi im a new follower from the the blog hop
    really enjoyed your blog
    please come visit me anytime

  16. I say go for it. If you wait too might not ever do it. Nothing wrong with wanting to travel anyway. And not wanting to feel normal. It's just that folks feel trapped by different things.

    Just when you get to sure to write and tell use all about it!! Take pictures!

  17. Great post and good on you for making that comment back to the teacher.

    You are normal and you are not alone. The thing to remember is that life is all about stages/phases. What you are doing in your 20's is not what you will be doing in your 40's. There is a time for everything to happen.


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