I have a vague memory of sitting at the kitchen table in my childhood home and saying to my mom, “I’m weird.”
“You’re not weird,” my mom said in response. (I almost wrote “honey” there at the end, but I’m pretty sure my mother never called me a pet name.)
“I don’t think weird is bad, actually,” I said to her. “I like being weird.”
I didn’t understand at 17 that being weird was probably the worst thing a teenager could be according to my mom’s inner child, apart from fat or poor.
At 17, I was starting to understand that there was hope for weirdness somewhere outside my hometown, outside the confines of suburbia, outside the quiet and not-so-quiet expectations of my parents and all the other adults I knew then.
My dad was kinda weird — still is — and this was something I appreciated and even admired as a kid. It was his weirdness that gave me access to some of my own weird bents: his Time-Life series on mysterious creatures, for instance; his VHS collection of Star Trek. To be fair, my mom was weird sometimes by proxy. She also liked Star Trek, because my dad did, and it was her taste for VC Andrews that introduced me to the concept of reincarnation. (Via My Sweet Audrina.)
Around that same time, one of them, though I’m not sure which, left Whitley Strieber’s Communion on the kitchen island, and no matter how weird I was (and curious), I was still scared shitless by the jacket cover.
* * *
What kind of weird was I back then? Well, I know for certain that by age ten I already believed in telepathy and psychic dreams.
The summer between 4th and 5th grade was when I met Rachel at summer camp. Everyone thought we were sisters. Since I had seen The Parent Trap with Hayley Mills a dozen times, but most others hadn’t, I convinced Rachel to tell everyone we were twins — fraternal twins separated at birth. (We didn’t look that much alike!)
We told the girls in our bunk, and the counselors, too, that Rachel lived with our birth mother, and I with our birth father. We modernized the story and made it ours, pre-Lindsay Lohan.
I had also seen the original Escape from Witch Mountain film by that age, and, at night, Rachel and I would lay each in our own beds and try to send each other telepathic messages, as if we were, in fact, twins.
Sometimes it worked.
I was weird then.
And it was good.
* * *
I probably stopped being weird some time around the time I started liking boys.
Boys replaced weird for a while, or at least quieted weird down for a number of years — maybe all the years between then and now; “now” being my mid-forties.
But, not really. Boys just became the priority, or the distraction.
Depending on the day… and the boy.
* * *
What kind of weird are you?
I imagine if you’ve read this far, you are weird. Or suspect you might be. Let me help you figure it out.
If we were at a dinner party together, and I could ask you what I really want to ask you — What’s the Weirdest Thing That’s Ever Happened to You? — what would you say?
I’m not sure what I would say, quite frankly. I suppose it would depend on whether or not I was flirting with you. Let’s assume I wasn’t flirting with you, since boys are no longer my priority nor my distraction. Let’s assume we were at this dinner party, both of us in committed and satisfied relationships, either with another person or with ourselves.
I might say, “Well, I have psychic dreams.” Except, sure, that was weird when it first happened, but it isn’t so weird anymore.
I might say, “I think a ghost lived in my old house, except it seemed to only live in the master bedroom, and the worst thing it ever did was leave behind a smell of old cigars.” But that’s not really a happening, is it? It’s more like an alleged phenomenon.
I might say, “My boyfriend’s dead wife once contacted us via Bluetooth.” That’s pretty weird. Yeah, that’s probably the most recent weird thing that’s ever happened to me. Or, at least the most recent weird thing I can explain in words.
Truth is, there are a lot of weird things happening to me these days.
Often, I find myself at the intersection of synchronicity and simulation theory; or at the corner of Mauritania-is-Atlantis and the Bermuda Triangle. Some days I get startled awake by the ghost of somebody’s pop-pop, maybe mine; and other days, I am rocked to sleep by the sounds of a boy whispering my name inside the chorus of a song he has not yet written.
On Tuesdays and some Februaries I find myself in a trance state, channeling my former demi-god self. And tomorrow, there’s a good chance a rabbit will be humping someone’s arm in my living room while I draw infinity loops over and over again in the distant past.
* * *
When I was 17, I told my mother, “I’m weird.”
She told me I wasn’t. Like with a lot of things my mother once told me, and I refused to believe, she was right.
I’m not weird. In fact, lately, I’m starting to think that the rest of you are the weird ones. Well, maybe not you. If you’re reading this, maybe you’re like me. Not weird. Maybe you believe in time travel. Maybe you already do it with your mind and call it remote viewing. Maybe you’ve tried talking to angels or aliens. Maybe it’s worked. Maybe you’ve gone hunting for BigFoot or white rabbits or the cave that allows you to get into the secret section of Mt. Shasta. Maybe you’ve met the love of your life in a dream, three years before you’ll meet him in Starbucks. Maybe you’ve transmuted a paper clip into gold.
You’re not weird. And if ever we meet at a dinner party, I’ll tell you why not.
(This article was originally posted on Medium. To read more essays like this, check out my Medium page.)