Heading to a new city and a new life used to energize my ADHD brain. These days it makes me reflect on the settled life I don't yet have.
by Jane D.
I am all over the place, packing and repacking luggage, surrounded by a mountain of stuff — clothes, greeting cards from loved ones, kitsch from travels — that I’ve accumulated over the past three years. “Moving is a moving experience,” I repeat like a mantra as I fold and stuff. In other words, this sucks.
On the other hand, it's cause to celebrate. This stay is one of the longest runs I’ve had in recent years. For nearly three years I’ve stuck with the job, the city, this part of the continent, and I eventually came to call it home. This is a minor miracle for the ADHD me, though three years is a blip on the screen for the non-ADHD adult world. Maybe the next chapter will be even longer, four years or five, I think.
Tomorrow, I am headed back to Gotham and then from there a new city to start a new adventure, the Ph.D. marathon. “You’re the sort of person who always wants change and can’t sit still,” says the aunt, who doesn’t know about my ADHD. “But sometime soon, maybe when you’re 40, you’ll need to settle down. You’ll get tired, physically.” The word 40 is a stopper and gets me thinking. She’s right, my latest medical adventure is proof that need to slow down — that I am slowing down.
Nonetheless, the aunt has struck my Achilles heel and I feel a white-hot anger surface. I find myself defending myself and my choices. “I feel incredibly grateful for what I’ve had,” I say, rattling off the countries I’ve vacationed in and the adventures I’ve had on the job. But the list trails off and seems to lack substance.
Over the past couple of years the process of uprooting and restarting the engine has begun to lose its thrill, and I find myself increasingly longing for the flip side of my life.
Over the weekend, the grandmother and I went to my cousin’s housewarming. The cousin is my age, married; she’s been in the same city for the past 16 years. Often the contrast can be stark when I compare myself to people of my vintage. They are homeowners, have a significant other, have families of their own. I’m curious and envious about what that life is like. I’d like a taste of it, I think. Will it ever happen? Will three years ever extend to, say, five years or 10?
The cousin and her husband give a tour of their home, three stories, with a backyard and a sprinkler system and a grill. They bought a minivan, symbolic of a stable domestic live. I give them a housewarming gift and congratulate them, and at the same time say farewell. Maybe someday — not anytime soon but someday — I'll be on the other side of the fence.