I remember being disappointed when I learned how to spell extraordinary and realized it was simply extra + ordinary. How was that special? That's like saying someone is super ordinary, or extra normal. Of course I later realized it meant more than ordinary, but I'll never forget my frustration.
In Paranormalcy, one of the major themes is something that I struggled with during my teen years--the desire to be special versus the desire to fit in. It's a strange contradiction. I wanted to be special, for people to recognize that I was different and, dare I say it, extraordinary, but at the same time I didn't want to stick out. I wanted to wear the same things, do the same things, be like everyone else.
Perhaps part of the problem is I knew I never would be. Most of the people in my high school knew me from at least seventh grade (many from elementary school). And, as happens, I had quickly and early been defined by...well, you have three guesses:
A) My stunning GAP and Old Navy fashion sense.
B) My ability to throw rocking parties.
C) My vocabulary, which I learned to edit down far too late.
Yes! You're right! I threw great parties! (Sad story: the one time I invited a bunch of people over to my house, not a single person came. I sat in my room and bawled until two close friends came over and we went and got ice cream. And the next day I got a 33 on my ACT, so TAKE THAT, STUPID TEENAGERS THAT DIDN'T COME OVER.) (Ahem. Umm, I'm not bitter. Promise.)
Okay, so, really I was known for being very, very smart. And for a few other things, such as being very short, and being very outspoken. Senior year I got the "Always has something to say" award, perhaps because of incidents like the time in AP Government and Politics, when, during the middle of class, I was having a discussion with a boy about sexism and racism. He informed me that he didn't think they were actual problems, at which point I may or may not have shouted, "WHITE MALE, you have no perspective!"
In the middle of class.
Good thing the teacher liked me.
However, my outspokenness and confidence masked insecurity, deep loneliness, and my struggles with depression. While I loved the things about me that set me apart, I hated that I was different.
I don't think my experience is unique. The teenage years are a quest for self-definition, with all of the accompanying tumult and emotional struggles. Fortunately, now that I am several years removed from teenagerhood, I can remember those feelings and all of the joy and heartbreak. And write them!
Paranormalcy is about a one-of-a-kind girl longing to be normal. However, as we all no doubt found out, there's really no such thing as ordinary, is there? And that is extraordinary.