Guiding a group of 40-plus college students through Asia, I feel lonely, scared, and sick about avoiding the business at home that promises to help me reign in my ADHD.
by Jane D.
Last week, I launched yet another adventure chaperoning 40-plus college students from my alma mater on a journey through another Asian city. I want to do a good job on this, my first-ever 'collegiate tour guide' trip and a much-needed respite from Hong Kong.
The grandmother observed me packing yet another suitcase shortly after my return from Gotham: "You are so busy," she said matter-of-factly. It didn't sound like a criticism, but increasingly I take this kind of statement as if it is an offense, and I think a scowl might have slipped out.
The truth is, I am tired. And consciously or unconsciously, I don't want to focus on the tasks at hand -- namely, finding a new shrink and finding a support group of fellow ADHDers overseas -- so I'm off in another direction. You could call it fear of success.
Here is another reality: I am becoming greedy and I want it all. I want to globe trot. I want to be on the Right Coast, the Left Coast, and (if I could swing this) all seven continents. I want to swim. I want to ski. I want good friends. I want a soul mate. I want a mortgage. I want to write -- a book, an essay, a column. And ideas come at me at least three a minute -- at any given moment I am bombarded with thoughts, ideas, dreams, some of which I get very excited over. At times it is thrilling, at other times fascinating.
So over the past four days I've been working and traveling non-stop with these young people, and rather exhausted by the packed tour bus and the whirlwind schedule. New subway, new crowds, new language, new foods, and the thrill of acquiring new souvenirs. But after the chaperoning and tour ended today and I was on my own, I suddenly felt afraid -- I was once again alone.
I grabbed my luggage and checked in to a new motel, my home for the next two nights. I posted pictures of a smiling me in this new city and announced my travels on Facebook, but it all feels very fake. I am not really happy. In fact, I am scared -- scared of the long list of work-related tasks that awaits my attention, scared of the fact that I am 36 and there is no sign of a single date, suitor, or husband-to-be.
After checking in, I took the subway to meet a 30-something woman who once worked with my father -- someone he thought would be good company for a few days. She had invited me to a company dinner, and I felt very out of place. I was once again surrounded by strangers and the static of conversation, laughter, and a language that is secondary to me. But even if it were English they spoke, I wouldn't have felt at home.
I pretended to enjoy this dinner, the food, the company, when inside I felt exhausted by the rain and running about, and longed for home. Home is not so much a place, but rather a state of mind and a sense of being surrounded by those who I know love me -- the grandmother and the aunt. I silently suffered through the dinner, and then took a subway back to the motel.
Somehow I knew that I shouldn't have booked this hotel. The heavily discounted rate should have been a sign; the location in a dark alleyway is more than unsettling. When I checked in, I noticed that the ceiling was abnormally low and the bed took up the majority of the floor space. Then I spotted the framed drawing above the bed of a naked man and woman having sex. I also spotted what looked like a blood stain on the pillow and a mosquito on the wall. I smacked it. It was fat and heavy with blood.
I wanted to return to a bed, my bed, whether that be in the grandmother's home or back in New York. It was time to press the pause button and face reality.