Holiday & Travel Planning

On the Road Again

I’ve moved eight times in six years. It’s not exactly second nature, but I do keep learning along the way.

Last month, I moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, to take a job at the call center where my friend Eric works. I’m not especially interested in telemarketing, and, as an Ivy League grad, I feel a bit overqualified to be working alongside Eric, a community college dropout. But I was having a cash-flow problem in Dallas, and, as someone who has ADHD, I’m always ready for something new.

This was the latest in a series of eight state-to-state moves I’ve made since graduating from Brown University in 2000: Providence to Manhattan; to Gainesville, Florida; to Brooklyn; to Austin, Texas; back to Brooklyn; to Hanover, Indiana; to Dallas; then to St. Pete. But before you write me off as an impetuous maniac, you should know that my other job – stand-up comedian – keeps me on the road much of the time. So the precise location of my home base isn’t all that important.

At this point, you might assume that moving would be second nature to me. You would be wrong.

Take this most recent move. I reserved the rental car for only 24 hours. Seemed reasonable at the time, but packing took longer than expected, and that left me only 17 hours to make the trip. The MapQuest printout indicated that the drive from Dallas to St. Pete would take 17 hours and 45 minutes – excluding stops. Well, I wasn’t about to be deterred by such an inconsequential detail.

Now I know: It’s possible to drive 1,177 miles in 16 hours and 55 minutes, including stops, while staying within shouting distance of the speed limit. But only if water consumption is kept to a minimum, and bathroom breaks are strictly roadside. (By the way, keeping within shouting distance of the speed limit does not mean shouting at the speed limit. That is a sign of severe sleep deprivation.)

Planning a schedule isn’t my only problem. I’m also not so good with road signs. Just minutes into my move from Manhattan to Gainesville, for example, I missed my exit, turned around, missed it again, and found myself driving back across the George Washington Bridge. And, somehow, I’d ended up driving my rental truck in the cars-only lane. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, a group of soldiers who were patrolling the bridge waved me over to see what kind of incompetent fool was behind the wheel. I sat there sheepishly as they pawed through my possessions, wisecracking about my hand-me-down, gold-trimmed velour pillows, which perhaps did not need to be making the trip. Did I tell you that I am a packrat?

I’m also highly distractible. Once, while driving through North Carolina (on one of my moves to New York), I stopped at a gas station for a large coffee. Back on the road, I placed the cup on the dashboard, and promptly forgot about it. Then I remembered it. Then I was going to move it, but got distracted. Then I decided I would move it, but only after adjusting my seat. Moments later, I was wearing an entire pint of near-boiling joe and watching in horror as a dense cloud of steam billowed up from my lap. My friend in the passenger seat said I shrieked “like an animal.”

I love the road, my bridge and coffee mishaps notwithstanding. But I’ve come to realize that perpetual motion makes it hard to stay organized and productive – to create the kind of life I’ve always wanted. It certainly puts a strain on my relationships. And moving around so much means I never feel fully at home. Then again, my footloose ways keep me from ever feeling stuck.

Whenever I start to feel restless, I check my calendar. Most of the time, it’s pretty open, since I’m not great at planning. While ADHD might cause the occasional spill, it’s great to know that we can always turn around and buy another coffee. Let’s just not leave it on the dashboard this time around. Because, man, that coffee hurt.