The upheavals of modern life can leave a person feeling constantly in search of ‘normal’. 2012 was a year of major changes for us as a family. It started with the unexpected illness and death of a brother-in-law. (That alone rearranged the whole family constellation.) Following swiftly after were long stays in Israel, finding a new home for adult child number 1, a new college for child number 2, a move of household for the rest of us to Germany. The first year in a new home and new country was busy with just the moving in and settling aspects. Now starts the business of ‘finding normal’.
What does ‘normal’ look like? Feel like? When every day seems a challenge just to stumble through it, will ‘normal’ be possible? I sometimes daydream that I am a child again in Oklahoma and try to remember the smells, sights, sounds that brought comfort to me – and I find I am searching for them here. Maybe getting a dog was part and parcel of my own desire to find normal. We always had dogs when I was growing up. For many years, we had two at a time. Is ‘normal’ then ‘familiarity’? Comfort in anything that feels familiar?
It is often said that comfort is found in routine. Well, routine is the first thing that gets thrown out the window in a major move. All routines end and are replaced with new ones. Even the routine of our child going to school is different. His school hours are different from day to day. His summer vacations and breaks during the school year are different – and they don’t always align with my husband’s university breaks (thank you very much). I am not working outside the home, so I have to create my own routine. All new and somewhat familiar, but not fully. And perhaps that is why having coffee around is also important to me. It is a familiar smell and taste.
I know from experience that only time will make the new feel normal – but it doesn’t stop me seeking it and wanting it desperately. When I have these daydreams into my childhood, I am reminded of the movie ‘Trip to Bountiful’ in which an elderly woman just wants to go see her childhood home one more time. There is something about childhood – and remembering who you were as a child – that helps us reconnect with our most inner self. It helps us to find our own ‘normal’.