This is where ‘they’ went at my soul with a woodworking plane: shaving it down in small, varying motions. A brutal teacher’s scorn here, contempt from my supposed school friends there, vicious glances from strangers around town as a bonus.
When I was very young, it felt like a big place. No, not quite big… normal-sized, the size places should be. In comparison, the sky-reaching towers of London were colossal and awe-inspiring, but now to me London is ‘normal’-sized (or perhaps more correctly, my ‘standard’), and this place is small. Even individual houses themselves look minute, like I left the place as one of them and yet returned to find it is Lilliput and I have become Gulliver without realising. The thousand cuts of their plane were healed in my time away, my soul has grown and also anchored itself firmly inside me. Their plane cannot slice at me now, and I think it must make them angry.
AndI’ve never been quite sure who ‘they’ are. Certainly they are the ‘normal’ people, but more than that they are the arbiters and authorities of ‘normal’, those for whom it is crucial that the rest of us play at normal too. It is an arrogant notion to paint myself opposed to them, but it appears that it is so. I am opposed to the concept of unquestioning normalcy with every atom of my being, even as I acknowledge that I am perhaps not so terrifically eccentric myself. Maybe the harsh plane sliced away more than I thought, or I’m simply too cynical to be totally mad these days.
And yet… the conventions ‘they’ hold most dear – marriage, career, children, mortgages, cars, keeping up with whoever the fuck the Joneses are – these are the stepping stones on the proscribed pathways of life that I just can’t be doing with, and that is why they hate me, why their plane was and is directed so often at me. If I could’ve just played along like a good little girl… but no. I despise lying, despise particularly being anyone but myself. It has taken a long time to regain my sense of self after being planed down, and I will not be anyone but myself, and that truly, is why I think they must hate me.
I could live easily with the scorn if it were over and done with easily, if I could resign entirely from their notions of society and be left alone. It is not how it works, and they always come back, in some new guise. With each year that I pass, free from their chains, they find new ways to get to me, to poke sticks and threaten me with their plane.
There is a timeline set down and we are all expected to adhere to it. Now, maybe some of it is based in science, but most of it was determined by ‘them’ at some point. I’m fine with the first bits, more or less: go to school and learn stuff. It’s what comes next. One must get a romantic partner (of the opposite sex, of course), one must marry, mortgage oneself to the eyeballs, get the nice car and the good job, then have a child. It never ends, because once those things are achieved, the expectations for the nicer car and the second child are raised. It never ends. It must be done, or one risks the scorn and/or pity of the world. Those things in their own right are not wrong or bad, it is the expectation/demand of ‘them’ that one acquires them that is despicable.
Well, I’ve been planed down enough and I’ve already had scorn and pity poured down upon me. The world has so little power over me now: the dedication of ‘them’ to make me one of them is exactly what’s turned me away from ‘them’ forever. Is that why ‘they’ hate me? I don’t care.