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There’s that quote I can’t quite remember from a name I also don’t remember about how hard some people have to try at “being normal.” Of course, normal is a relative term, but I think there’s enough indicators within that admittedly vague term that generally people understand what is meant by being normal in society. I’m not talking necessarily Big Picture, just mundane, day-to-day normal living things and activities.

Case in point, the other evening, I went to a quaint, small-town hole-in-the-wall, very-much-on-the-nose restaurant known as Shooters here in Rifle, Colorado. The appeal of the restaurant besides the aforementioned (as I find that alluring myself) is that it’s a restaurant that allows both the waitresses and customers to openly carry firearms. Unfortunately, I didn’t actually see anyone carrying when I went, but that’s beside the point.

I came up to the sign that says wait for your server to seat you, so I did. Then I’m taken to a small table for two around the corner. There’s a family behind me to my right and then later a family comes in front of me. I brought a book with me to read while I waited for my meal. I also had my phone sitting out on the table because duh.

For most people, I would imagine, all of this is routine. Go to a restaurant. Order food. Eat food. Pay for food. Leave.

But for me, it’s an ordeal. It’s an ordeal in acting normal when I’m totally not. I got one of those old fashioned Root Beer bottles to drink and then the Guac 9, which is a hamburger with bacon, lettuce and guacamole. Before the sandwich arrived, I had the Root Beer.

I took a sip the entire wait and only a sip because I couldn’t do more. My throat does this weird shit where it clenches when I’m in public settings, make it difficult to swallow. Even when I take a sip, I have to clench my toes, as if I’m in a no-gravity zone trying to force it down and keep it down. All of which is frustrating because normally — meaning when I’m not in a public setting — I could swig the fuck out of that Root Beer and likely finish it in two gulps, tops. Instead, I baby sip it and for the most part, leave it alone, looking deliciously seductive and out of reach.

All of which, I’m sure is 99% psychology rather than physiology, but alas.

And I’m fidgety as fuck. I constantly have to adjust my body, move my hands, my feet, my knees, and so on.

Then the Guac 9 arrives with a side of fries. A thick, tall burger that looks messy to eat (which presents a new set of anxieties, worrying about making a mess). Again, I I have to nibble my anxious, weird ass through the french fries. A french fry no bigger than my index finger takes two, maybe even three bites, whereas “normally” I’d gulp five at a time.

I’m not sure how this shit sounds to someone that…doesn’t go through this, but for my experience, it makes enjoying food hard and I love enjoying food. This is why I normally do takeout. That and I enjoy eating my food while watching a favorite show or movie or a funny clip on YouTube, but yeah.

So, I nibbled my way through my french flies, clinching my toes and the like, having trouble paying attention the book I was reading and then I had to nibble my way through that big-ass burger. Again, normally, I could finish this meal in a few minutes flat. I’m a fast eater, but it’s just not the case when I’m running solo.

Now, if I’m with people all of this still applies and sometimes it may even be somehow more magnified, but there’s also cases where if the conversations are good enough (or if I’m drinking alcohol, which puts a comfort blanket over all of this madness), I forget about it and can sail through my food on calm waters.

But most of the time, I’m floating through the rapids trying to keep my head above water while everyone else bobs along because to them, this mundane, day-to-day shit ain’t the rapids.

Good times.

7 thoughts on “Floating in the Rapids

  1. When I was reading your first paragraph, something clicked in my head. It was pretty cool, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to explain it to you. Thanks for that though – I am glad it happened.

    Here is an attempt to explain it:

    I don’t know why anyone would try to be normal. What would you get out of it exactly?

    I bet you don’t notice anyone else being non-normal, or if you do, it’s probably either fine or even better, pretty cool. I sometimes wish I had the guts to be non-normal, to do some things that some of the cool kids do.

    Quite often, it’s having the idea. There was a guy at our poetry group a couple of months ago who “snuck” an entire choir into the building and all 30 (thirty!) of them started singing on cue during his open mic. This had never happened before, so was certainly not normal – very cool though. 🙂

    I don’t know why you should worry about your “quirks” – eat your fries and burger however you need to – it’s all good. I wish I had some interesting quirks to write about. 🙂 I appreciate how “normal” I am I suppose and wouldn’t really want to be paralyzed by anxiety, but in the end, you are how you are, and it really is good that we’ve got this kind of variety out in the world.

    Who knows what you’d have to give up to be “normal”?

  2. 🙂

    Well, if it’s a priority, you can work on it.

    I always think about my own life this way: I’d love to be able to play piano, or speak 10 languages etc… BUT, I very clearly state up front that I know I will never spend the amount of time required to do any of those – they aren’t high enough priority for me.

    Similarly, you’re fries problem. 🙂

      • Yeah, for sure, you are what you are (this sounds biblical actually 🙂 ).

        And yeah, as I said, what would you gain by “being normal”? Ask the question.

        It’s very likely if you were perfectly fine with how you are on those, specific stresses, it might well just go away.

        If not, then get help from someone who can do stress counselling or something similar. I know it’s solvable somehow, and it’s just a matter of spending the time to sort it out.

        If not, then just accept it and know that it’s part of you.

        During a meditation retreat lately, the teacher talked sitting with aspects of yourself. Say a thought or an emotion just keeps coming up. Sometimes, in these situations, people really HATE them, and want to get rid of them. His approach was that when someone is visiting you at home say, you are always polite and welcoming and let the person in. With the emotion or thought – it is a part of you, you should accept it at the very least. I thought it was a great sentiment. It is a part of you – it’s probably got a good reason to be there and the more that you understand it, the better.

  3. Ha! My last message was a bit of a mess – not clear at all. Lots of half-finished thoughts.

    The Buddha used to talk about his meetings with these emotions (he had troubles around the death of his mother with his birth) as visitors that he sat down had shared tea with. It was a common theme with the Buddha apparently.

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