Not My Normal Self

Not My Normal Self - Robin Botie of ithaca, New York, tries to do the tree yoga stance in a photoshopped moonscape.After a half hearted workout, I dressed myself in the warm comfort clothing I’d tossed into the gym-bag earlier knowing I would go nowhere but straight home. No one would see me in the threadbare sweatshirt, the fleece vest, my son’s army long-johns, multiple pairs of arm warmers, and my polar fleece pants that make me look like I weigh 200 pounds.

This is not my normal self, going to the gym late in the day, skimping on the workout, and not caring enough to pick out respectable clothes. Slipping into the shoes I usually wear only to walk the dog, I hurried from Island Fitness, hoping no one would notice me.

When I arrived home, fumes of grilled meat greeted me. My son was in the kitchen with a new friend and a pile of barbequed chicken thighs sat in the middle of the kitchen counter.
“Oh hi,” I said to the friend, raking my windblown bangs with my fingers. She was beautiful. And tall enough to see the inch of gray roots on top of my head. I left my scarf on to distract from the rest of me and looked to my son, not sure if I should quietly disappear. But the counter was set for three. Bottles of pinot grigio and merlot were already opened and he offered me a glass of the white. I threw off one of my layers of fleece.
“Uh, if you tear up the romaine, I’ll make a Caesar dressing,” I said to the guest. We worked side by side, me dumping together anchovies, garlic, and olive oil as she cut and carefully arranged the salad. I ditched a pair of arm warmers and drank some wine.

It was so easy. So normal. And I’ve been craving easy and normal ever since my daughter died over three years ago. Glancing at the life-sized portrait of Marika on the wall, I made a silent toast to her.

The three of us filled our plates and ate. The friend laughed like a two-year-old being tickled. I almost cried to hear laughter in my house again.
“I just bought cake at Sarah’s Patisserie. Anyone into dessert?” I asked when we’d polished off most of the food. But they smiled, no. “Well, thanks for a great dinner. I’ll do the dishes,” I offered. They disappeared upstairs and there was more laughter.
I tore off my sweatshirt and began to clear and clean, humming “Some Enchanted Evening,” an old favorite. Then I ate a whole mini-cranberry-ginger cake myself and thought about the ever-changing nature of normal.

What is normal anyway?

 

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12 thoughts on “Not My Normal Self

  1. SusanB

    It seems we relate “normal” to not having our boat rocked. “Normal” is a day when nothing not ordinary happens. Your impromptu dinner with your son and his friend sounded lovely, but I don’t think that is your normal. I know what you’re saying I’m just a little down, holiday season and all. What is normal? I believe that normal is when life is status quo, but it’s a moving target.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Yes. I like that. Life is a moving target. And that dinner was definitely not part of my normal. But the old feeling that life is good, that life can go on forever untainted, is what I was equating with normal. I try to do that some days. But you’re right. Normal can’t be lassoed down.

      Reply
  2. Kimberly Ryan

    Such a great post Robin, how we must move forward in the lives with those we live with and who are around us even in the midst of our grieving. Five years after my sons death, it is a daily task at times, and at other times, a comfort. Awh yes, to hear laughter in the house again…., hugs to you for writing and sharing the thoughts and feelings we as bereaved moms experience. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thank YOU so much Kimberly. It is so good to hear from you. Thanks for reminding me of the laughter I shared with my Canadian sisters on your retreat. We need more laughter. Do you believe it’s been five years? Four for me but some days it seems like more than that and other days it feels like my daughter is so close. Hugs to you too.

      Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Lynne, I’m so glad you get that respite. Daughter and grandkids – that’s the best. I’m wishing you more of those times. Cheers!

      Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Cheers, Nancy. Normal seems to change daily sometimes. Some days I’m too dazed by it all to be brave or question or do anything other than go with the flow. Are you ever so exhausted by events that you decide to just wait and watch?

      Reply
  3. Elaine Mansfield

    Makes me weep, Robin–with relief and gratitude. So glad you were included in this little threesome and so glad it all could feel so good. There is so much hope in those bursts of happiness and “normal.” More will come (I tell myself as well as you). Yes, more will come.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Just following in your footsteps again, Elaine. It was so great to see “normal” and happiness when I attended all the opening book launches with your family and friends. Yes, lots of hope. Wishing us both more. Cheers!

      Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thanks, Annie.And I love the Italian Hummous recipe using white beans on ciaochowbambina.com. It’s not your normal everyday hummous.Cheers!

      Reply

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