When You're Strange, Faces Come Out Of The Rain, When You're Strange, No One Remembers Your Name
I've always known I was a little off. From a young age I developed habits and rituals that other people never seemed to understand. As I've matured I stopped calling them rituals and habits. Slowly but surely they morphed into my so-called "rules". Whatever, they're called they still rarely fall into the category of normal behavior. And over the years they still have drawn a curious, sometimes suspicious, eye.
It wasn't like I was completely clueless that such behavior would set me apart from the rest of the crowd. Indeed, there were times where I invited the singling out. However, most of the time, I wished I was better suited to fitting in, that I wasn't such a slave to my proclivities. Sure, I remembered having the realization that I was weird and from that point on just going with it. What never happened was my waking up one day and just deciding to gain such a reputation. It's my belief that it was a part of my character from day one; that I was born to the life as soon as my parents had me.
And it wasn't like it was always such a bad thing. On more than one occasion my tendency to forsake common sense or reason itself has provided a wonderful excuse for otherwise inexcusable behavior. When people expect you to act in an independent fashion you're free to act independently most of the time.
What it had been for a long time was a lonely state of being. When you set yourself apart, it's hard to all of sudden admit to others that you now want to be a part of something--even if it's only temporarily.
All that changed when I basically got to La Salle. I mean--it's all well and good to call Tommy, John, Paul, and Phillip; my friends from St. Rita's; my "friends," but at the time I thought I knew what the word meant. Up until that point I thought the main point of friendship was the idea of companionship and loyalty. Indeed, they are strong components, but it wasn't until I matriculated from junior high that I began to understand what getting to know someone well and becoming friends actually meant. People like Dan, Peter, Chris, and Omar I believe I got to know really well. More to the point I got to know their idiosyncrasies really well also. They were never something consciously given away; they were more byproducts of fate. If one spends enough time in the presence of someone else, the tiny secrets one keeps have a tendency to dribble out like so much drool. It's not something we choose; it's something chosen for us. It's my belief that who we are is a lot easier to reveal than it is to hide. It takes effort to mask or screen our character. It doesn't take any effort at all just to be ourselves.
That's what I think went on in high school. Once I was there it wasn't such a big deal that I was an oddity--at least not as much as it was during my time at St. Rita's. Once I was in high school I grew into my skin, so to speak.
That same rationale became even more pronounced once I met Lucy. Once you get to know someone as well as I know her, it's second nature to pick up on all the rituals and habits she thinks are okay but honestly surprise the hell out of most people. For instance, I learned early on in our friendship that she has a special relationship with the color orange. She takes her devotion to the color orange as seriously or more seriously as I take my devotion to the number eight. Visiting her parents' house and seeing her room and her bathroom--it's everywhere. Okay, it's nothing as ridiculous as her having her entire room covered in orange, but when the walls, the bedspread, and even the window frames are that particular hue you know there was deliberation somewhere.
Also, I know it doesn't seem so weird now, but it really weirded me out that she has an official nap day. It's just odd to me that someone can set aside one day a week for thirteen straight years to take a four or five hour nap in the middle of the day. I mean--I love naps, but I can only take them here or there. To devote fifty-days out of the year to the activity is, yes, admirable, but there is a hint of zealotry there too.
And don't even get me started on Toby. The hands thing, where her hands have to be pristine twenty-four hours a day, was quite a shocker to me. Coupled with her Monk-like obsession with cleaning her bathroom two or three times a week, and she's the closest I've come to meeting someone with OCD.
It's took awhile to accept these revelations as fact, as I'm sure it took both of them some time to come to grips with the strange obsessions I seem to have. Yet over time it's become like second nature to hear Breanne go on about some new orange serving dish she got or go on about how she broke her record for longest nap. It's become barely a blip on the radar hearing Marion cleaning her bathroom (again) while she's on the phone with me. It's the nature of the beast. When you accept a person truly into your life as something more than an acquaintance, you accept all of them. It's like Breanne says, "you can't unbake a cake." You can't separate what you like about a person from what you find odd about them; they come packaged together through and through.
And what's more, I used to think I was alone in feeling isolated. I thought I was the only one who had habits they just couldn't explain. But ever since knowing the girls, ever since getting to high school and beyond, it's gotten easier for me to see that all people are strange in their own ways. More than that, I've gotten to the point where most people's passions stop seeming all that inexplicable to me. I tend to roll more with the punches now when people reveal their likes and dislikes to me. It's becoming more and more where I'm understanding that it takes different strokes to move the world.
Sometimes too what I once thought was foreign and unexplainable starts to make sense to me the longer I'm around the influence. For instance, ever since I've gotten to know Toby and her statistics about just how many germs live on how many surfaces in a typical household, you can bet I too wash my hands in hot, not warm, water. As she says, it's the only way to be sure along with soap that your hands are germ-free. Or, even more succinctly, I've taken up a lot of Breanne's suggestions which stem from her minor weird habits. When I need to soften up ice cream I now stick it in the microwave for ten or fifteen seconds like she does. Or when I need to cool off a dinner plate that's fresh from the oven or frying pan I stick it in the freezer for a minute or two like she does.
The gods help me--after being around Breanne, those two habits just make sense to me, even though at the outset of our friendship they seemed particularly peculiar.
The point is, yes, I'm weird. But so is everyone else. And rather than trying to rid myself of my odd habits and even odder rituals, I guess I've embraced my outcast status to the point where it seems I'm adopting other people's odd habits and even odder rituals.