Michela Walters’s Picture Choice: Both
Title: Nothing Like Normal
“I want someone normal.” His words rang out in Janie’s ears, hollow and empty like all the promises he’d made to her over the last year they’d been dating.
Standing by her bed, she remembered his dismissal as if he were still sitting beside her on that bench when he broke her heart.
“I’m not sure what happened to you lately, but this-“ He waved his arms up and down her body, accentuating her entire being, “isn’t the you I met and fell in love with. You’ve turned yourself into a pink haired, punk wannabe. This isn’t what I signed up for. I want normal. You know, you with your blond hair and normal friends. Not whatever this freak is you’ve turned in to.”
He kept repeating the word normal, making her feel even more alone and unloved by the second. If he’d wanted to rip every shred of her ego into miniscule pieces, he’d accomplished what he set out to do.
After he’d left, she’d walked back to her apartment, mumbling the word normal under her breath the entire way. Normal? What did that even mean? No one was actually normal. Everyone was hiding something, or pretending to be something they weren’t.
Whether it was laughing at something that wasn’t funny, or speaking with SAT type words to impress someone, people ultimately tried to fit in, one way or another. But when everyone is acting, what exactly is normal then? What is the benchmark when there isn’t a control group? Janie just felt exposed and confused by the entire exchange.
When it came right down to it, She knew better than anyone that pretending to be someone you weren’t ultimately just made you miserable. Perhaps Adam breaking up with her wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Maybe now she could just live. Shit, she felt like for the first time in ages she could actually breathe. Janie hadn’t realized how suffocating her life had been. She’d dyed her hair because she thought it would be fun, something her stuffy country club parents would hate. Everyone in college had started dip-dying their hair various colors, so why not the entire thing? And when her stylist had finished, Janie had fallen in love with the vibrant look.
In this one small moment of defiance, Janie felt more like herself than she ever had wearing her Lucky jeans and Abercrombie shirts. It felt right, and she sure as hell wasn’t going back to the way she was. She was still a good girl at heart, getting good grades and not doing drugs, but by the mere act of turning her hair bright pink, she dipped her toe into the shallow end of individuality and the water sure felt fine.
She was just about to jump in the shower before having to head to her afternoon class when her phone rang.
“Hello?” she asked, but was surprised to see Travis, one of Adam’s fraternity buddies calling her.
“Hey Janie, it’s Travis.” he paused, thinking about how best to phrase his next question. “Adam came back to the house and told us what happened earlier. Um... I just wanted to tell you that I think he’s an idiot. You’re beautiful, pink hair and all. I know it’s too soon to ask you out, but well...When you’re ready, let me know, ‘cause I think you’re pretty much perfect the way you are.”
Janie stood holding her phone in stunned silence. Travis was a bit of a loner in the fraternity but had always been respectful to Janie when she came over to the house. Not so much some of the other brothers.
“Uh, yeah. Thanks, Trav. I’ll keep that in mind,” she mumbled, still trying to process everything he’d said. But the more she thought about it, the more she remembered Travis’ kind eyes and relaxed manner. His handsome face and dark shaggy hair didn’t hurt either. Finally replying, “I think I’d like that. But yeah, I need a few days to get my head around it.” They’d ended up talking right up until Janie had to leave for her class. With a promise to hang out over the weekend, they’d hung up.
Pulling her hair up into a messy ponytail, she left her room feeling buoyed by his kind words. She strutted through the Commons with her head held high and her ego almost put back together with the knowledge that at least someone liked her, the girl who’d decided she didn’t want to be normal any more. And that felt pretty damn good.
Michela Walters is a wife, mother and book enthusiast. She is currently attempting her hand at writing her first romantic fiction novella. You can read her other stories on her blog: michelawalters.wordpress.com