When I was younger, I would be outside playing and sometimes I would hear the people in their houses sitting down for dinner clinking the silverware on their plates, or washing dishes, or talking to each other in their sitting rooms with calm content voices. I couldn't make out what they were actually saying but I could tell by their tone of voice it was an amiable conversation. I imagined it was something normal and like small talk or conversations about work or bills or school, and I would wonder what their lives must be like. What would it be like to live in their family sitting at their table? What did they do on Sundays? Or even Mondays? What were their jobs like? Did they tuck their kids into bed with a story or a lullaby and a night light to ward off bad dreams? Did they pack lunches for them for school in the morning or just give them the money to buy it in the cafeteria? Did they eat cereal for breakfast or toast? Did they go swimming on weekends or camping or to soccer games? I always wondered what other people's lives were like, and if they were anything like mine. I guess that wondering never really left me because I still wonder what other people's lives are like today. When I see people walk down the street in crazy mismatched bold outfits or people in shorts and tank tops with their arms and legs covered in tattoos I begin to wonder. What do they do? What books do they read? What hobbies do they have? When they go home at night, do they have a dog, or cat, or a ferret, maybe a goldfish waiting for them? Maybe they don't like pets...maybe they are allergic....maybe they go home to a cozy little apartment with mismatched furniture and hand me down rugs? Maybe they live in a house? Maybe they don't live anywhere but where the mood takes them? Maybe their family is nice? Maybe their family is mean? Maybe they have no family at all? Do they listen to music? Classical? Rock? Rap? Folk?
I don't know why I do this or even why I did as a child, except other people's lives fascinate me. I guess it is because I have always been so scared of everything. So terrified of life. So afraid of anything new and most things that are old and everything in between. So I try and imagine what it would be like to not be scared to live. I imagine great and wonderful possibilities when I see these people. Quiet dinners around the table with no one getting up to leave because the noises of people chewing in their mouths drive them insane. I imagine comfort and coziness rather than anxiety and cleaning the baseboards with a butter knife and soapy water. I imagine the person covered in tattoos as brave because needles hurt and tattoos are permanent and what must it be like to have something to say that you believe in so strongly you want your skin to say it for the rest of your life? I am not sure that I have anything to say that is that meaningful or believe worthy enough to ever be permanent. I imagine the boldly dressed person as courageous and as someone who marches to the beat of their own drum and doesn't give a damn what other people think and I envy them because I do care what other people think. Even though I know I shouldn't. I don't really want to care but I do....and I wonder...what must it be like to be that way? To be different than how I am...to be free. Too be normal. To be not scared......I wonder.
It even happens to me on television shows or movies. Especially period movies set in a different time. I was watching a mobster movie set in the forties last night and I was interested in the story line and yet I caught myself wondering again. What would it have been like to know so little about diseases and germs? How would it have been to just live your life not worrying that every little pain or ache or cramp meant something medically horrible was wrong with you? You would never worry about it because they didn't know much about that stuff in those days. You got something bad, it made you sick but you didn't go around being plagued by the thought of it because you didn't know any better. You just lived life the way you wanted to. The freedom they must of had from the fear of it. Freedom of the fear of germs and diseases and medical issues, I will never know because now that I know about them, I fear them constantly. I always have. Then I have to sit there and ask myself what is wrong with me. I mean, here is this terrific and moving movie and all I can think about is how wonderful it would have been to share the drink with the love interest on the show and not wince when he puts the glass to his lips and not be all," Um, you have had your flu shot right?". Or how nice it must be to sit at the bar and actually eat the pretzels in the bowl on the counter that everyone and their grandmothers has had their hands in and not bat an eye....Or how freeing it would be to run around and not be terrified that every little bothersome twinge is a sign that you have a serious malady. I could dance, or sing, or run around in high heels and flapper dresses and not give damn. My God, what would that be like? To not be paranoid, or weird, or terrified, or OCD?
It just stuns me. How other people live their lives so freely and unaware and they seem happy. They seem carefree. They seem sooooo normal and it fascinates me. This normal that I have been told time and time again that I would never achieve. This word that eludes me no matter how hard I try or how hard I play act at it. I know that I can not be free of my OCD. That I will never be OCD free completely. That I will never be normal.......and I know that the tattooed guy probably has a tattoo of Tweetybird on his ass that he got in college on a dare and regrets it, or that the boldly dressed lady is probably just color blind or crazy or both, and that the dinners I heard as a child were probably just mac n cheese and sliced hot dogs and that the conversations were probably about stupid things like what the neighbor said about the guy across the street and that television and movies aren't real and that normal supposedly doesn't really exist. I know all of that and yet I still cant help but wonder what it would feel like or be like or if it had a taste what would it taste like? Would it be bitter or sweet or would it taste like popcorn? Or if i"normal" were a thing, an actual solid thing, could I hold it in my hand? Would it be heavy like a brick or would it be light and fluffy like a marmalade sandwich? Would it be sticky like peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth on a hot day or hard and gritty and substantial? Because I know that fear tastes coppery and metallic, and I know anxiety is bitter and tastes salty like tears, and I know that my fears aren't tactile and my hands are empty yet they feel so very very full of broken dreams and worries and desperation that slip through my fingers daily, and I know how heavy and substantial OCD is on your soul, and so I just wonder....what would, what could, how would it be to finally just live unafraid.... to be different.....to be like everyone else....to be normal.