Saturday, May 28, 2011

A drowning nomad...

Utterly lacking in inspiration of any kind, I reach for a beer and here I sit, writing. I'm not a big drinker, but the other day, to do some writing, I had to have a glass of wine first. I have never had to seek inspiration. It has always found me. Exuberant inspiration has always been my close companion. It's a little lonely without it. I'm not depressed really, I'm just not happy. There are things and people in my life that I love, but something is missing.

I know that if I continue to have to drink to access the free-flow of the universe that it won't be a good thing, so I will make sure not to latch onto that crutch.

I also know that I am not alone in this experience. As winter has thawed in Northern New England and humans reconnect everyone talks about how hard the winter was this year, and how life just doesn't feel quite right. I feel like I need a connection to something larger that the geographic place I happen to be living, but I don't know what it is yet.

This much I know...the other night I dreamt that I was begging someone to take me away from New Hampshire. Begging as if begging for my life to be spared. Begging through a web of grief. I pleaded with them that I had to leave, because I was so sad here. But I don't think sad is the right word.

I lived 35 years as a nomad and now my limbs are bound to more permanent tent stakes.

The first time I moved, I was almost 4 years old. We left New Hampshire and traveled on an airplane, the first of many bicoastal yearly trips that we would make. I wore a red dress that my Grammy bought for me. We left our family behind. Our sprawling, intricate network of family, branches that stretched across the years and geography of the Northeast. We tore up our roots and we left. One uncle lived near Seattle and we were going to his house. I thought that the plane would land in his yard; the airport surprised me.

We had one layover, during which my mother had to take our cat, in her carrier, into the bathroom to clean her up because she had pooped on herself. My father had our tickets and accidentally got back on the plane without us. We almost could not get back on the plane. You cannot live a day with ADHD and not experience it in a palpable way.

For years after this, I dreamed that I drowned in my red dress. That I fell into a deep lake, surrounded by cartoon seaweed. I gently landed at the bottom of the lake and could see above me a circle of people watching me die. Sometimes the lights of an ambulance would appear, wavy through the water above. No panic, no sound, just placid recognition of my separation from the world of the living.

After moving out of my uncle's house - we didn't stay there long - we lived in one house for a few years, and then we moved into an apartment in the same city, I think so my parents could save up for a house. After about 5 years in that city, we moved to another, when my parents finally purchase that house. And we were there for 7 years-ish until I left for college. Where I lived for 4 years and then left...and then went to California for 6 years and then left...and now I have been here in New Hampshire for 6 years.

And here I am.

What is home? My sister says that home is where the heart is - she's quite literal in her interpretation, she means your heart that is beating in your body and any ethereal qualities and feelings it may contain. That scroll is tattoed right on her body; a reminder. Or an insistence that belies uncertainty...?

My new household is much different from the one I grew up in. And though parts of New Hampshire are imprinted on my soul like that scroll on my sister's leg, it does not feel like home. What IS home? WHERE is home?

To frame this as ADHD is to trivialize the purgatory of my tethered heartstrings. To frame it as the product of my parents' likely ADHD is irrelevant. I am here now and we will not move for at least 15 years because our children are still in school and their mother lives here too. Even if we buy a house (sometime in 2065 at the rate we're going) it's going to be right near here somewhere.

Every frontier has an end, a horizon where you see the dots of civilization and remember what it feels like. I have spent my life reassured by its existence but avoiding capture. And I've found new frontiers through stepmotherhood. But this is no consolation for a loss of freedom of movement.

I don't know how to get home. Maybe I've never known. My life has forced me to a definition. And I'm resisting, oh I'm resisting.


  1. what a beautiful and well written piece. I've moved around a lot too maybe not as much as you did ,but I've always questioned where home really is. when people ask me where i'm from in my mind i truly don't know the answer ,but i give 'em a generic answer. In a few years from now ll be out of this town and the same question will be posed again. Perhaps 'll have an answer then.

  2. Thank you Anu. It felt good to write it after such a long break. I've been struggling to put words to my experience and getting to the point of being able to do so is at least a small relief.

  3. So beautifully expressed, Katy.