(written for a genderqueer performer) When I was in junior high, I lived only a block and a half away from school. It took minutes to get there, cut even shorter if I ducked through a hole in the fence and walked right across the small field next to the school building. But every morning I would leave home far earlier than necessary and walk 15 or so blocks in the opposite direction to catch a big yellow school bus. It seems silly to say now, but I did it in an attempt to be normal. I know, I know, but hear me out:
So many kids rode the bus. So many kids complained about riding the bus. It was a part of junior high culture and I was missing out because of the location location location of my home. I mean, I’m sure the proximity to a school is part of the reason my parents got the place. But, each morning I walked in the wrong direction in order to complain about my subsequent bus ride. And each afternoon I rushed out of the building in time to jump on the bus – unable to participate in this after school activity or that one, sometimes dashing out mid-conversation with an “ugh, bus”.
Needless to say, this did not make me ‘normal’. All it did was make my life more difficult. Of course, this should come as no surprise. Normal things – a nerve-wracking phrase, despite or maybe because of its lack of meaning – normal things are always wildly difficult. Isn’t it the case that you never feel more outside of yourself than when you are doing something you think you are supposed to do? Doing normal things is like playing a massive life-encompassing game of follow-the-leader when nobody knows who the leader is – their just sure it isn’t them.
Here are some other phrases I find nerve-wracking, only some of which have meaning:
hang in there
truly humbling experience
not an exit
and criss cross applesauce … Well, that one’s not nerve-wracking if you really just want me to sit down cross-legged. But if it comes with the assumption that I will be squirm-free and attentive, we might have a problem.
It actually gives me a little thrill that my young attempt to be normal was, in fact, very, very not normal. I don’t often ride buses at all these days. I sure as hell won’t walk out of my way to hop on an unnecessary one…
I mean that both literally and metaphorically, in case that wasn’t crystal clear.
More info: Erin Rollman is an all-around theatrical badass and incredible human. Learn more about Erin’s theatrical work at https://buntport.com/