I've always lived - or perceived myself as living - right on the outskirts of Normal. Really nearby, but never in the thick of things myself. Near enough to observe my loved ones and to see what they do with their lives. Near enough to get a pretty good sense of it all.
I've never been in a long-term, love relationship myself, though. Never a committed, physical, same-space type of thing. I think at my age that might be considered abnormal - but, as a gay guy, maybe not. We do have the reputation for being ho's - which in my case, is probably only a quarter true. ;-)
I've never actually had sex with someone that I really loved. I've had sex with someone I wanted to love. I've had sex with people I cared about, and with people I didn't really care about at all and that I wasn't attracted to in any kind of way. Lonely + horny = not too picky. Not that I've had that much sex.
The relationships that I've been in might not have been typical, but they were still real. They were people I was blessed to have known. And with them, I gave and I received, I lied, told the truth, got mad, and provided comfort. And in this sense, I think I couldn't be any more normal. My experiences might not be "normal," but my emotions are.
And so, when I listen to my friends speak about their lives - and I love it when they do! - and especially their relationships, I really think I can understand where they're coming from. I listen to their worlds like I'm memorizing the lyrics of a song. It's fascinating, the things they say, and I wonder if they even know it.
They talk to me about their everyday lives and what it's like for them. About work and the pressure they find there, their frustrations, friends, fears, and the fun things they do. The relationships they're in - about the ups and downs, what pisses them off, and what makes it all worthwhile.
And when I hear each perspective, I'm reminded every single time that it's different for every single person. What bothers one person will amuse another, and what one person adores, another will despise. There are no set rules. Each person is just living in their stories of what is true for them. The nightmares and the joys are only there because the person experiencing them really believes them.
I love and respect them, as well as their fears and their dreams. They are my teachers. They teach me the power of belief and the potential that life offers us - in the shitty and the sweet.
I don't have to have a life situation like everyone else to be normal - because there is no "everyone else" and there is no "normal." There are just a bunch of different stories going on everywhere, some more similar than others. There is jealousy and fear (and happiness, of course) in every single life, to one extent or another. There are a trillion variations of what is normal, which makes Normal one bullshit idea if I've ever heard one.
Living your life, being in a relationship, is about being human and about the experiencing of your heart and your story, period. There is no typical way! No definitions! It's being anybody, anywhere - and doing what you do.