restless

Being restless is a life-long condition for me. My adoptive mom was a school bus driver, so there was a lot of motion when I was a kid. The daily route to school was the same, but there was always something new I never noticed before. Sometimes she would get to drive a class field trip on Saturdays, so of course I went along just to see something new.

Maybe when your home is a place of stress and abuse, you want to be anywhere but at home. I lived literally next door to national forest land, and I explored there as much as I possibly could. I knew all the dirt roads and made my own trails, whether on foot or bicycle. My innate sense of navigation meant I was never lost, even when I wandered further than a youngster should. When it was time to come home, my mom would signal me with a boater’s air horn. I never wanted to hear that sound, but by then I was hungry, so I would make my way back to the house.

When I was younger, I didn’t fit in very well at school, and I was frequently melancholy or sad. I can clearly remember sitting in my 3rd grade class one day, not listening to the teacher, looking outside at the blue sky and the clouds, and wishing I was alone in my forest instead of being trapped in a social world I wasn’t part of. Sometimes I would fake a headache or stomach ache just to get out of school. I didn’t really want to be at the bus garage with A-mom, but at least I could be away from the other kids. Sometimes I would sleep or read in her bus by myself, but sometimes she would take me to lunch and I felt miraculously better.

When I was older I was allowed to take the car by myself, and suddenly I could explore anywhere I wanted (within the limits of my gas money). I never took the same road home from work, going out of my way to see something new. But I lived in a small town, and I ran out of new roads too quickly.

When I became an adult I had more freedom, so sometimes I would drive miles and miles late into the night. One time I had a tough day at work, and I could see thunderstorms building over the Sierra Nevada, so on a whim I decided to drive to the mountains after work until I found the rain. Another time I drove through the farms in the valley in the middle of the summer night, windows down, smelling the soil and the crops and the water. Sometimes I would take a drive to Sacramento or San Francisco and explore; anything to get away from the place I was in.

Even now, I have an understanding with my wife that I can go on a drive when I need to clear my mind or when I just become too restless. She has been pretty understanding about it, even when I spend the night. As long as I come home, she is okay with it most of the time. I don’t like taking the time for myself, but I need to do it sometimes. When I’ve been out long enough, I get to come back home to a familiar place where I am loved. That’s a pretty good deal.

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