"How do you define normal?" --Fox Mulder, THE X-FILES
Very good question, Agent Mulder. To my knowledge there is no such thing as normal. There is a perception of normal, usually fed to us by sitcoms and commercials, but that shit just doesn't happen in real life. The human experience is too varied and wide to ever define normal. But there is "a" normal subjective to each and every one of us. In the normal course of my day, I go to work, grumble about my commute, read, write, drink, go to bed and get ready to do it all over again the next day. That's "my" normal. Your mileage may vary.
My grandfather passed away, and that changed my normal. He was my father figure. He raised me as his own. He was there to offer advice and to teach me things and so on and so forth. Now there is a vacuum in my life, and it has thrown everything up into the whirlwind. That's what my recent breakdown was truly about.
I remember that Gramps always got on my back about putting my city sticker on my car. All. The. Time. He would even do it for me, which I let him do because it seemed to bring him some small piece of pleasure, and who was I to take that away from him? When he started losing it, when he started not being able to get around so well, I had to deny him. I put the sticker on myself because, goddammit, I'm a grown man. I know how to do this. He taught me over and over how to do it, and I could do it in my sleep. Of course, I had to PROVE to him that I did it by bringing back the husk of the old sticker. But, well, you know.
I just put the new city sticker on my car. The first time without Gramps in the world. I thought about him as I put it on, though.
And now I seek my new normal. Some of the stuff is the same. Others, different. I have an enlarged liver, so I no longer drink to get to sleep. I have anti-anxiety/depression pills I take now. In case you were wondering which of the side effects I got on that roulette wheel, it's impotence. I haven't had an orgasm in weeks. That sucks, but I guess it's better than the others, like spontaneous ejaculation, herpes and whatever else they said.
Part of taking those pills is going to a therapist. I guess it helps. I think the pills help better.
I haven't been able to write for months now. Nothing new, anyway. I recently finished efforts on bringing a WIP back from the grave. A wise friend of mine pointed out that that's what I'm doing with myself. He also pointed out that most people write to create better worlds than the one they live in, and he told me that I write to create worlds even worse, but where I have control over everything. There's a lot to be said for that. Like I said, he's a wise friend.
But I've had a few projects on my backburner, and I'm just going to have to crack into them. Move forward instead of wallowing in my misery.
My therapist said that depression is in the past, and anxiety is in the future. I see the wisdom in that. Maybe now that the one event that made me most nervous has finally happened--the death of my grandfather--maybe I can move it into the backseat of depression and on out, vanishing into the rearview mirror where it will only sneak up on me every once in a while instead of constantly.
But I still have Star Trek: Deep Space Nine to bring me comfort. Just watched the season four premiere, and it was one of the best episodes of Star Trek ever.
The new normal. Easing in. Caring about myself again. Realizing that maybe I'm not as doomed as I thought.
A funny thing happened at my grandfather's funeral. I was there with my family, waiting for my brothers in Crystal Lake to show up. They were late, and it turned out that they'd sprung a coolant leak, just barely making it to the funeral home. When the service was over, and we were heading out for the burial, I looked at the trail of coolant they'd left. It went from the opening of the parking lot to where they'd parked. They split up between my other brother and me.
After the burial we had a wonderful lunch at a pizza place I'd never heard of down the road from the cemetery. They were wondering what the hell they were going to do about the car. I suggested getting a sealant from an auto parts store, pouring it in the coolant reservoir and then putting more coolant in.
Let me state for the record that I am not a cars kind of guy. I can change a tire (just so long as it's not with one of those skimpy little jacks that come with the car), I can change oil and I can do some basic stuff, but this kind of advice from me was unheard of. But it worked. Why?
I remember the same thing happening to my grandparents' old Cavalier. That's how Gramps fixed the problem. Even after all these years his teachings came back to me like he'd just imparted them yesterday.
Gramps is gone, but he lives through me. He is still a part of my new normal.