And there it was, this old scarred tree, burnt, wounded and vacant, waiting to be filled, praying to be whole. Among a forest of blossoms and ancient pillars abundant in leaves it would seem to have stood out in the worst way.
What may have been considered the most ugliest of creations, to me, became the most beautiful, the most relevant, the most important, the most likely to be me in another life…
This tree would never audibly speak no matter how hard I’d try to channel my inner Pocahontas, yet it still told a story worth a thousand words. What had marred it so visibly made it so worthy of wonder.
Questions came to mind… almost in endless numbers. How did this happen? How did it survive? How did it manage to still stand so strong, head still high, hands still reaching towards heaven….?
I am that tree, broken yet whole, scarred yet healed, humbled by circumstance yet still standing, head high and hands still reaching towards heaven.
Mended, strengthened, and filled by the greatest power ever known.
“Ughh, what is Normal anyways?” I mumbled to myself for like the trillionth time. I-have-never-been-normal…ever!
I wasn’t a normal kid. I mean, I took imaginary friend to a whole ‘nother level. One day my dad just couldn’t take it anymore and totally snapped. I guess he got fed up with me waiting on my imaginary friend during bath times. Or maybe he just hated the way I sat half way on my chair when the dinner table was full so my “friend” and I could share a seat.
On one of these occasions he completely lost it when I absolutely refused to sit all the way on the chair because, “How dare I be so rude as to not make room for my best friend during meal times…ugh duh!” It was at that moment my father stood up and started yelling, “Stop it Sutana! There is no friend! Sit in the chair and eat your food.”
“Um yeah there is,” I noted confidently as if to say whoa there daddy-o didn’t you get the memo?
Looking back now, I think this response probably terrified my dad. I mean, just the thought that his daughter may be a few screws short of a tool box sent him into panic mode and agitated him even the more. I think it was then my life changed in a pretty profound way and I witnessed what would be the first and hopefully the only murder I’d ever seen committed in my life.
My father turned back, picked up what I believe was an imaginary butcher knife and went on shouting wildly while making stabbing motions in the air beside me. Once he regained a portion of his sanity he yelled, “Shes dead Sutana! there is no friend, I killed her, she-is-dead. Now! Sit in the chair and eat!” I sat in that chair alright… but I didn’t eat! Besides, I never got how people had appetites after funerals anyways. And although it wasn’t a funeral, in my little 8 year old mind it was a sever loss none the less.
And as a grown-up, I’m 100% convinced that nothing about my adulthood thus far has been normal. Well, sorta. I mean, hmm. What have I done that’s normal? Ah! Well…I went to college for like 6 years…annnnddd….. that’s about where that story ends. Come to think of it, I could be on my way to a masters right now. Humph… I guess there must be something about Sallie Mae stalking me all times of the day from random phone numbers seeking reimbursement on defaulted student loans, and the fact that i have nothing to show for this debt but a few YouTube vids and a Facebook page that makes me say “Ahh, It was all worth it.”
And when it came to other normal adult stuff like relationships or even employment for that matter, I always had this weird way of ending things. Like my first job for example. It was at an ice cream shop on the other side of town that I only worked at 2 or 3 times out of the week. The people I worked for were the sweetest husband and wife owners who were just looking for some extra help because they were expecting their second child in a matter of months. I guess they were just so busy they hired some extra hands to run the joint while they were out doing what ever it is expectant parents do in the third trimester of pregnancy. But, when I’d finally decided that it was no longer the job for me, I literally handled it like a premature 5th grade boyfriend.
You know, the kind of relationship where its all initiated by mutual friends and classmates that say “Hey Jason likes you wanna be his girlfriend?” And you’re all like “Okay. Sure.” despite the fact that you don’t even know what a relationship is, in fact you still spell it r-e-l-a-s-h-o-n-s-h-i-p. But you just rationalize it in your mind like “meh, how bad could it be having a boyfriend? You’re like way totally past the cootie stage.”
And so this thing lasts for the longest 2 weeks of your life and it is full of awkward hand holding and sitting next to each other EVERYWHERE, all-the-time. At lunch and on the school bus and at the museum field trip and during recess annnnd eventually your’e like “Skip this! I can do this all by myself! Its called an imaginary friend bro…granted mine was murdered by my father last week but Gods able.”
So then you tell your best friend to go break it off for you. Why? Because its her fault for setting you up in the first place and taking the blunt of awkward break up conversation is what real friends do for each other. And so Friday comes (because you always break up on a Friday, gives you two days to avoid any backlash) and she breaks it off for you and come Monday you and Jason are back to hopscotch and Chinese jump rope again like nothing ever happened.
And just like my 5th grade love life I just couldn’t bring myself to look into their soft blue and green eyes, and like a semi adult say, “Hey guys, I have to quit.” Instead, 2 hours before my scheduled shift I had my best friend, who mind you looks about as much like me as she sounds, call my job and quit for me. I just remember my boss being on speaker phone saying ” Are you sure this is Sutana? Because you don’t sound like Sutana. “
And all I could think, in my best Aziz Ansari voice was… “Aghh, cus its not Sutana, this is so embarrassing!” But it was too late, we’d already gone to far. And in the end, as for everything going back to butter scotch and Haagen Dazs, lets just say when I went to pick up my last check it was the most awkward situation EVER. (sigh)
But so what! what is normal anyways?
By definition normal means average, conforming to a standard; a typical state or condition; the usual. And honestly when you put it like that, normal doesn’t sound like to much of anything I really want to be. Although I’ve done a lot of sucky things and maybe many of the quarks that make people raise their eyebrows towards me are embarrassing, or awkward or seemingly unnecessary, when reflected upon and placed in the proper light I find them empowering, and inspiring and what makes me, me.
I struggle with who I am, who I want to be and what I want others to think about me every now and then…okay that’s a lie, I think I think about it about it everyday. But in those moments when I want to cringe because a memory pops up from my past or when i want to shut out the world because I’ve hurt myself, again, and I’ve given in to a temptation that continuously proves too powerful for me or when i want to cry because I’m not the person I thought i should be by now; I have to force myself to pause and to remember that I am not this way by mistake. That God made me this way and there is a reason and a purpose and a place for a sideways girl like me. That maybe, just maybe my brand of strange is precisely what the world needs. And if we were all honest, even the “best of us,” looking inward at who we’ve become can find some flaw, some past failing, some undesirable thing about ourselves. But, what I’ve learned and what I’m continuing to learn to accept are that it’s those weaknesses that make us stronger, those embarrassing stories that make us wiser those flawed and fragile things that make us different and the same all at the same time. We are all our own piece of abnormal…some of us are just better at hiding it, others of us are still learning to live with it, there are those too who wear their weirdo right out there on their sleeve and then there are a number of us who rotate daily in all of the above.
The point is, I definitely don’t have it all figured out but what I do know is that I don’t quite mind being different, or odd, or unique, because the truth of the matter is, the most normal thing I can do is be me…