Wednesday, January 12, 2011

maybe i'm crazy

there's a man who lives down the road from my grandpa and me. in a clapboard white shack. a few yards back from the rural lane. right in the crook of the turn.

for as long as i can remember, he's rented that little house. long enough to have paid off a real mortgage years ago. but month after month, he shells out the cash. to maintain his little refuge, alone in the country with a few good dogs.

old pickups, at least four of them, decorate the front lawn. there is a metal contraption in the yard upon which at least a dozen randomly shaped birdhouses hang lackadaisically. clothes are hung on the line even when it's raining. the back porch is visible from the road, decorated top to bottom with old license plates, rusty with age and weather. a lifetime bachelor, it's not uncommon to see him sitting shirtless on his deck, surrounded by his few best friends, being a little too loud.

and all around the place, random bits of furniture are scattered. a few worn down barns sit just off to the left, old tobacco sheds rotting away season by season. on halloween, he passes out stale circus peanuts.

from an outside eye, he is a bit eccentric, to say the least. but he's a good man--a harmless outlaw holding on to what he loves.

yesterday we drove by his place, going slow in the snow.

and i saw smoke rising from his deteriorating chimney. heard lynyrd skynyrd blaring from somewhere inside his heap of a home. and imagined him. in his favorite recliner, hands wrapped around his meager cup of weak coffee. not hurting anyone, just being. being himself. alone. comfortable.

and i thought about the line between offbeat and crazy. and i think he has managed to squeeze his ripped up wranglers right in between. sometimes i envy his ability to live so openly, so completely him. without any care of societal norms or what anyone might think. 

because what is normal? maybe, for some people, normal takes on a different appearance. that doesn't mean it's not completely suitable for them.

i don't think my neighbor is crazy. misunderstood, yes. but content, secure and sweet? you betcha. 

look past the chaos littered on the lawn, and inside sits a man who's got a lot of life, at least the part i struggle with, neatly ironed out.


bethani said...

i love this post!! like really.. i dislike the term "normal" because so often people have their own perceptions of normal, like the man down the road from you. he takes what life has provided him, makes the best of it, and lives his life NORMAL! yea he may not be the millionaire of the state, but in his eyes, he may be his own millionaire. ♥

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Haley K said...

that picture made me laugh, especially the mustache :)

And I liked what you said about being normal and crazy...who's to say who is what? Maybe the "normal" people are the crazies ;) We're the ones (or maybe just me) who do things sometimes just to please other people. But hello, that screams out insecurities. And I applaud that man for being comfortable in his own skin, in his own old shack, with his 4 old trucks & birdhouses. :)

Thanks for shedding light on a more open & accepting perspective :)

Thisisme said...

Hi vintch. I think that photo is Salvador Dali, isn't it, the painter? Loved that post. What is normal anyway. It is good that you are so accepting of that man and, as Haley K said, he is obviously very comfortable in his own skin. I think you have to admire that in a person. Good for him!

Ross said...

I really liked this post. It just shows that you shouldn't look and judge someone. He is comfortable in the person that he is.

Alycia (Crowley Party) said...

Don't judge a book by its cover! I happen to love old men with different personalities... they don't care what others think!

jeanette from everton terrace said...

Yes I agree. Living in peace and contentment should be what we are all striving for, no matter what brings it to you. If he's not hurting anyone, sounds like he isn't, then live and let live I say - except I wouldn't eat those peanuts if I were you. :)

Anonymous said...

love it. i wonder this all the time! what does normal even mean? and i would rather be considered weird and crazy than normal, it's way way more fun. :)

A Serenade for Solitude said...

a perfect picture of a man. Wonderfully written. xx

I'm AE Jones said...

So well written... kind of just drew me in as I read it. Thanks for writing... you're amazing!

Amy said...

I love thinking about how this man lives. He definitely sounds like he's from my part of the woods. I bet he has amazing stories to tell. People like that are always so interesting. I once met this sweet elderly man after his house burned to the ground. He had some type of cancer and hadn't eaten actual food in over a year (he has been using a feeding tube). And the only thing he wanted out of his burnt down house was a set of wedding rings. He was so positive about everything that came out of his mouth.
Once again my friend, such a great writer you are.
Love to you darling.

Kimbirdy said...

people often ask if i "fix" people who are weird or crazy as a therapist, but the answer is a resounding NO. even if someone is totally eccentric it doesn't mean that there is anything wrong. people are happiest in all sorts of ways and that's okay. i think people in our western culture are uncomfortable with being "different," but i think it's great!

Ana* said...

I LOVE-LOVE this post. What is normal for some people, might not work for others. I give this man kuddos for daring to be different in a society where not following norms might be perceived as abnormal. I know you're probably sick of me saying this but I have to say it again. You are the best writer ever.


the southern hostess said...

Such an important reminder to be comfortable in your own skin. Thanks for that. Hope you're having a lovely day.

Amber Blue Bird said...

i so admire people who could give two licks about what others think about them. I strive to be that content in my own body and self

The Many Colours of Happiness said...

This is a great post :) I think your neighbour sounds so completely himself, which is really lovely. It's so rare these days. We are way too quick to label people who are a bit outside the norm. I'm studying primary teaching at the moment, and any kid who is a little bit different gets diagnosed and put on pills. I don't know. It's just sad :(

b. lee said...

I totally got swept away in ur above post * u've got talent, girl!

the mystery in each of us is fascinating ~ ~

Emily said...

great AND thoughtprovoking! Sometimes I have to catch myself from misjudging people and I remind myself that for some reason God made them and they too, like myself are in his image. Hard to remember when you stumble upon a crazy person and trust me they are out there. I have a little old man who lives next door to me too and has his same little routines every single day. Inside his house is like its frozen in the 60's. I wish I was old and didnt care about apperances.

becca said...

loved this post it is so true that not everyone is meant to be the same. One size does not fit all. reading this i went back to that old say of "never judge a book by it's cover because what is inside could be beautiful" thank you

a whole lotta love said...

There's no such thing as 'normal'. We're all gloriously unique. Love this post, as always :)

A Whole Lotta Love,

Ashley said...

Just goes to show "Normal" is different for everyone.

Bet this unsuspecting lover of life would never guess he's the subject of one of your very beautiful blog posts. :)

Daydream Living said...

Hi Courtney,
Great post! Even in the shower I had to think about it; the most genuine people are often the ones you didn't suspect.
Maureen x

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