I have always felt weird. Out of place. Like I don’t belong. This is likely a product of the fact that I am bipolar and prone to depression episodes… blah blah blah, but the result doesn’t change. I always feel that disconnect. It is slightly Asperger-y. When I am around people my age, my ethnicity, my nationality, I find that everyone is going in a vastly different path than me. Not better or worse, just different. I have a very unorthodox life – I am child free by choice, an atheist, a nerd, a writer, an expat and my political views are my own and suit no party I know of. This usually limits coffee time chat to surface topics of movies, music and books. If I had one of the things listed there, it would make being social difficult. With the entire list… well, I make friends as easily as the cast of Lost made ice.
So, that weird disconnect pushes even further with me. I don’t understand most “normal” rituals. I grew up in a weird way and spent years in group homes. I look at rituals like weddings and have no idea why or how. I had a wedding with the dress and Hawaii and the pictures on the beach. It was lovely, but it didn’t change anything. We did it for the experience. It was worth it for that, but why do people go through so much trouble… basically. I don’t understand buying diamonds, or wearing white or having babies or 2 for 1 drink night at Applebee’s. I don’t understand why people water their lawns when water is so scarce. Why do people even have lawns? Aren’t there better things to do than tend to a non-productive patch of grass that no one walks on? And why $50,000 cars? Why baggy jeans? Why student loans that put you in debt for the rest of your life?
Why bacon sundaes at Denny’s?
(Note: I wrote this draft, a friend read it and gave me a Denny’s Bacon Sundae. I am now a believer!)
On the other hand, I understand vacations and traveling and collecting mostly useless things like art and antiques. I get those things because they inspire and enrich the mind, in my opinion, instead of ONLY being expensive or simply a misguided idea. Of course, this is all my myopic opinion and means very little in the grand scheme of things. Maybe a wedding inspires someone…. no, it doesn’t. It is something people were told they have to have in order to be “official” about love. I’m being negative and don’t mean to be. Back to disconnect…
So, I am a weirdo. Bonafide.
Enter- moving to Panama. Suddenly all my weirdness, my awkwardness, my issues with communication, my day dreamy habits, my DISCONNECT all have a reason. I’m a foreigner. People kind of expect it. They expect me to fumble over words, to not know how a certain everyday thing works, to not understand the rituals, to have a terrible sense of direction, to be overly polite to the point of embarrassing to make up for it because I feel guilty for not understanding. They expect it. They treat it with kindness and give me a little more time to figure it all out. They explain it to me with compassion rather than scowl at me with a “How can you not know that?” look. On one hand, I can memorize entire Shakespearian plays, solve equations, ramble on about physics and nerd crap till the end of time, but I didn’t know what flannel was until this morning. (See, in Panama I don’t need to know what flannel is because ANYONE WEARING IT IS A PSYCHOPATH.)
I think I’ve figured out why expat life feels comfortable for me. It’s this. The thing. The vaina. (Pana-Spanish for “The thing”)
So, maybe I should start to embrace my weirdness and start to connect a little.
Yeah, good idea.