Supernormal?

I am not this woman. Nor will I ever be. I could torture myself for not having her 5’11’’ willowy frame or for the daylight that cannot be seen streaming between my thighs when I walk. I could curse my reflection for a lack of sinewy arms and a concave stomach. I could beat myself bloody for the dewy, pore-less skin and silky, disgustingly thick hair that I’ll never have. I could pout endlessly that I am not a supermodel…

OR…

I could accept that I was born a normal girl to a normal middle-class family in the middle of normal America. It was not my lot in life to strut down catwalks in the latest fashions, party like a rock star drinking champagne until 3 a.m. and sleep past noon for that necessary “beauty rest.” Personal trainers, chefs, estheticians, dieticians and all kinds of other “ticians” are not at my beckon call.

It was my lot in life to go to college, get an 8 to 5 job, slurp my coffee from a travel mug given to me by the bank when I opened my meager account, grab Subway on the go for my “power lunch” and watch episodes of The Office while folding laundry in my modest 2 bed/2 bath house. This was my lot… just like the other 90% of America. OK, I don’t honestly know the actual statistics. But there is some kind of ridiculous majority out there living exactly like I do.

Our idea of a good time is tailgating before watching a baseball or football game and eating pizza and drinking beer with our equally normal friends after its over. If we’re fortunate, the occasional tropical, exotic or adventurous escape is something to enjoy and forever cherish… all the while knowing—as we sit at that charming café or under that umbrella at the beach—that this is, in fact, NOT OUR REALITY. Our reality is lurking just around the corner… waiting to kick our ass upon our immediate return.

But it’s not all bad. I get to exist on more than egg whites and sugar free Red Bull for a daily diet. There is no punishment or excommunication for gaining 5 pounds while on vacation and not taking it off for another 6 months. There is no paparazzi camped outside my home waiting to snap a picture of my all-of-the-sudden-suspiciously-fat butt or catch me in some compromising situation. And no one looks at me cross-eyed for sporting last year’s trends.

I don’t know why we as women are so hard on ourselves for not looking like we stepped from between the pages of Vogue. No one asks us to. No one expects us to. We do it to ourselves. Maybe some of us do it to each other. But really… It is NOT our job. Our job is just to be “normal” so that they can be “super” — and what in the world could be wrong with that?

Now… would I trade places with her if given the chance by my fairy godmother? Probably. But until then… I’ll just get the towels out of the dryer and reach for another slice of pizza… and the remote.

"Normal" me... in a "normal" seat... at a "normal" Red Sox game.

 

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The Back of the Closet

Have you ever, in desperation, looked in the very back of your closet to search for something to wear because nothing you own seems good enough and you HATE all of your clothes? You push aside the tees you wore this past weekend, the blouse you wore yesterday and the top you’re saving for “Casual Friday,” all in the vain attempt to reach the bowels of your wardrobe hoping against hope that therein hangs some incredible unforeseen garment that you’ve forgotten you own and can therefore resurrect!

Aha! You find something! How in the world have you missed it in all this time?!?! This is wonderful! This is going to open you up to endless, interchangeable fashion possibilities! This is going to double, no TRIPLE your number of available ensemble choices! This textile, could perhaps… transform your entire world.

Now, of course, as you stand there… hanger in hand… arm outstretched… admiring the aforementioned “Savior Garment”… there is one thing you know you must check first. And it is absolutely imperative. It is the biggest hurdle you will have to overcome, but you MUST find out before you get too excited and mentally begin pairing things up and creating outfits that will undoubtedly turn heads. I am referring to the all important question: Does it still fit?

<gulp>

Quickly, you consider everything you ate THAT day as a peremptory justification for any minor snugness, should it exist. You try to recall the last time you’ve broken a sweat (not including this one), pushed play on that dusty Denise Austin DVD or even laid eyes on the inside of the gym. Then you begin thinking about all the morning lattes, the mayo on your sandwiches, the bleu cheese dressing on your salads, the 3 p.m. sugar binges, the weekend baseball beers, the weekly-Lifetime-movie-cookie-dough binges… and the fear begins to build.

<double gulp>

Somehow you gather the courage to slide the first appropriate appendage into said clothing item… then the second. So far, so good. Now comes the true confirmation of your intestinal fortitude: Will it button, latch, zip or close without the surgical removal of any vital organs? With your eyes squeezed shut, muttering prayers, you try it. Praise God!! It STILL fits!!! The clouds part, rays of sunshine pour into your room and in the distance you can hear the faintest sound of angels singing The Hallelujah Chorus!

Ah… now the real fun begins. What to pair with this “new” former frock for it’s reintroduction into the rotation. After trying various color and texture combinations, taking into consideration this particular item’s unique strengths and weaknesses… you finally select just the right piece with which to pair it.

You’ll wear it the very next day.

Tomorrow arrives and you’re amazingly able to jump out of bed and kick start your day just by thinking about how nice you will look in the day’s oh-so-stylish ensemble. You will get so many compliments and your envious co-workers will assume you’ve been shopping, when in actuality, you haven’t spent a single dime. In anticipation for your great day, you get dressed, leave for work early and even stop for a latte… because apparently they haven’t damaged your figure too much seeing as this item still fits.

No sooner do you get to work, pull into your parking spot and get out of the car do you realize WHY it is that this piece of clothing was SHOVED to the back of the closet… It may fit you the same as it ever did… but it is so uncomfortable you cannot STAND IT!! You spend your ENTIRE day tugging and pulling and adjusting and hiding in your office, praying for the day to be over so that you can take this freaking piece of crap and CRAM it in THE BACK OF THE CLOSET… right where it belongs.

Where There’s Smoke…

While furiously wiggling out of my skirt and heels and into jeans and a pair of snuggly Uggs… I heard it. And I knew what it was. I simply did NOT have time to deal with it. Not yet. I had two hours of daylight left and a two and a half hour drive ahead of me. Oh and did I mention that it was a two and half hour drive toward an I-need-a-break-or-my-head-is-going-to-explode weekend? Yeah, well it was. It was imperative that I leave right THEN… noise or no noise. It was absolutely critical that I hop in my car and drive 75 mph toward 48 hours of spending time with my man, sleeping as long as I want to and indulging in more than a few tall glasses of beer.

The sound to which I am referring (but chose to ignore) was the annoying “my-battery-is-low-you-irresponsible-bitch” chirping sound that smoke detectors make to alert the resident that their untimely death-by-fire is imminent. So the battery is low in one of them. Big deal. There are two others in the house and I’ll change it when I return home early Sunday evening fully refreshed and renewed.

It was a decent plan—had it actually worked out that way. Instead, I return home a little too late and a little too tired from a little too much fun and all I want to do is relax, watch some crappy re-runs and go to bed. Naturally, I had completely forgotten about the smoke detector’s demand for juice. But it wasn’t long before I was reminded.

Reclining in front of aforementioned crappy re-runs, I heard it. Alright, which one of you is unhappy? I was within ear-shot of all four of the potential offenders. There are three smoke detectors and one CO detector. Muting the TV and getting up from my chair, I stand in the middle of the house and listen—ears tuned like a bat. Ah-ha! It is the one in the kitchen! I run to it and stand beneath it waiting for one more chirp just to be sure. And I DO hear it again… but not from THIS one. Damn. I think it’s the CO detector in the stairwell. I run to the stairwell where I am in sight of both the CO AND the upstairs smoke detector. I will surely be able to identify the malcontent this time. And there it is again! But it isn’t coming from EITHER ONE of these. Damn. There is only one left, but it is in the basement and it CAN’T be that one because the sound wouldn’t be nearly as loud as it is. And I have now wasted 20 minutes on this frustrating and obviously futile effort. I will just have to dismantle ALL three of the suspects if I am ever to find peace.

Carrying a dining-room chair around the house to use as a stool (I’m only 5’2”) I rip each one from its resting place and pry out the batteries. When all is said and done my kitchen counter looks like Ted Kaczynski’s workbench, but at least now I will have some peace and quiet. However, while getting ready for bed… I hear it AGAIN. It was faint, but unmistakable. By process of elimination and demolition, it has GOT to be the one in the basement. Standing in the basement now and staring up at the OBVIOUS offender, it looks back at me… silently.

So I make a call to my father, who yes… happens to live right across the street. The chirping continues UNTIL my father arrives in his pajamas… at which point that vexing chirping completely STOPS altogether. Of course it does. He checks the only one left—the one that I am positive it CANNOT be: the basement one. Aaaaand just as I suspected, that one IS working. He tests it and points out the little red light that is blinking on and off to demonstrate that it is indeed in working order. Damn.

There was nary a chirp the entire time he was in my house, doing a complete walk-through and taking inventory of my destructive quest-for-silence handiwork. Of course there wasn’t. He leaves. I stare at the remnants of my “safety devices” scattered across the kitchen counter, daring them to chirp at me again. I know the batteries have all been removed, but at this point, what else could it be? Can they continue to chirp WITHOUT their batteries like a chicken continues to run around after its head has been chopped off? Maybe they can. Out of desperation, I decide to have a conversation with the whole obnoxious gang as they sit there smugly—mocking me. And I ask them calmly to shut the hell up and assure them that they will ALL receive stupid new batteries tomorrow whether they need them or not. They remain silent. Perhaps I have been heard.

In a tense quiet I go upstairs and crawl into bed, praying that I have had the last word. I pull the covers up to my chin, close my eyes and begin drifting off to sleep… when all the sudden, piercing the darkness is—you guessed it—a singular, taunting chirp. Disgusted and defeated, I put a pillow over my head and decide that they may have won this battle… But tomorrow I will win the war.

Wanderlust

I climbed up the ladder to the loft above my bedroom in search of a place to store a journal I had recently filled. I opened the cabinet doors, slid a couple of boxes out from their resting place and peered inside, unsure of their contents. Suddenly a clear plastic storage bin caught my eye. I put down the cardboard box I was rummaging through and switched my attention to this container. Removing the lid I quickly realized that this one was a treasure trove! It was filled to the brim with old photographs, journals and letters from my high school and college days.

On a rainy Sunday afternoon, this was quite a find! Inching closer to the light from the plate glass window, I situated myself high above the world below and dove in. It was so entertaining to flip through the photos and read the words I had scrawled 18 years ago on the yellowing pages. It felt a bit surreal awakening so many dormant memories from my more “adventurous” days.

Of course I found a lot of journal entries comprised of the usual hopes and dreams of an 18 year old girl: Where would I end up? What kind of job would I have? When would I fall in love? How would we meet? What would he be like? Would I ever get married? Would I ever have children?

But even more interesting than those things, was a recurring theme in my writings. I was obsessed with escaping my small Ohio town in search of adventures and experiences in the wider world. My mom used to tell me that I had “wanderlust,” and I believe she was absolutely right. The dictionary defines wanderlust as:a strong, innate desire to rove or travel about. And I certainly had that! There were so many fascinating places I wanted to see and interesting people I wanted to meet… and I couldn’t seem to begin this wandering soon enough!

Fortunately, from the time I turned 18 I was able to do just that. I had the unique privilege of working on a beautiful Colorado Dude Ranch during the summers while in college. And I lived and worked in New Mexico for 12 years after graduation… allowing me to experience a completely different culture from the one in which I grew up.

During those 16 years I was fortunate enough to climb 14,000 ft. mountains—literally standing on TOP of the world! I spent time rafting white water rapids and exploring miles and miles of untouched Colorado wilderness both on foot and on horseback. I learned to fly fish in the Tetons and Yellowstone … catching, cooking & eating my fair share of indigenous trout. I learned to scuba dive… soaking in some of the Caribbean’s most active and colorful reefs. I plunged into the freezing-cold waters of Lake Tahoe and experienced the lengthy but rewarding struggle of pulling King salmon out of the open Pacific (throwing up the entire time).

I searched for banana slugs while feasting on the sweetest wild berries in the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest and took a 6-passenger sea plane into British Columbia where I participated in the carving of a community totem pole with native people. In New Mexico, Arizona and Texas I blistered my feet backpacking into (and out of) some deep canyons, visited various haunts of the legends of the “Old West,” herded cattle on horseback, learned to shear a sheep, brand a steer, breed a horse, and cook a rattlesnake. And my ultimate claim to fame: I once took first place in a grape-stomping contest at a local vineyard.

Please don’t misunderstand my intention for sharing these things. I didn’t list them to boast. I am proud of doing them. I am thankful that I got to experience those adventures. But mentioning all of these things helps me emphasize how totally mystifying I find the place that I am in right NOW. Today I come home to a peaceful old house with creaky-but-charming wooden floors. If there’s a foot of snow of the ground, I can simply pull on some boots and walk next door in my pj’s to enjoy a hot meal with my family. In the summer I can watch lightning bugs from the porch swing, enjoy a burger off the grill and sing obnoxiously during the 7th inning stretch. In the fall I witness the world around me turn a thousand different colors while tailgating before a big football game.

I’m not scaling mountains, carving totem poles or herding cattle. But strangely—unlike the person I was 18 years ago—I am not restless anymore. I still have that same wanderlust and I know I’ll still travel and seek out adventure, but these days I seem to find infinite amounts of joy in watching fluffy, white flakes fall from the night sky and in laughing with childhood friends over a cold beer.

Life is such an unpredictable journey. I tried so very hard to get out of Ohio—and away from home—only to discover years later that “home” is exactly where I now CHOOSE to be. Sometimes you have to surrender to your wanderlust and strike out on your own in order to travel back around and discover the fact that you’ve come completely full circle.