Restlessness and Roots

I’m close to finishing a draft, actually getting the ending right (I hope), but it’s been tough going because I’ve had a bad bout of restlessness. It seems to be an attack of what I call Military Brat Syndrome, in which every few years I get itchy to change something in my life.

That comes from spending my childhood moving every few years. When I was a kid, I sometimes resented having to move so much. I’d just have things going well, with a group of friends, knowing my way around at school, my room fixed just the way I wanted it, and then it would be time to move. I desperately wanted (or thought I did) to just stay in one place long enough to feel like I really belonged there, to put down roots. My dad retired from the army just before I turned fourteen, but then four years later I went off to college, then four years after that I got a job in a new city, and then I moved apartments every two to three years for a while, so I didn’t notice the restlessness. But then I bought a house.

While I’ve enjoyed the stability, I find, looking back, that I’ve tended to need to change things every few years in the 21 years I’ve been living in the same place. After a few years in this house, I flipped my office and bedroom, moving the office upstairs and bedroom downstairs. Then I lost my job and went freelance, which was a big change. A few years after that, I started going to a different church and found a new group of friends. Then I dropped out of some organizations I was in and found new ones to get involved with.

I’m getting that restless itch again now, but my problem is that I pretty much like my life the way it is. I’ve been going to the same church for nearly 13 years, and I like it better than anything else around here. I’ve been in the choir about 11 years and am going into my 10th year of directing children’s choir. I’ve been hanging out with the same group of people for more than ten years, and I like my group of friends. I don’t really want to change these things.

I would like a different house, but that’s not really feasible at the moment. Since I am hoping to move sooner rather than later, I don’t really want to get new furniture or redecorate because I’d rather wait to get things to fit the new place. This place is so small and oddly arranged that there aren’t too many ways I could shift furniture around. I may have to look for smaller things I can do to make it feel different. I’d like to get a new duvet cover, since I’ve had the same one for about 25 years, but I really like it and haven’t found anything I like better (or even as much). I’m planning to redo my office, which may help, but that will have to wait until it cools down more because it gets too hot up there to work. Maybe taking some short trips during the fall will help.

I do have moments of dreaming of going somewhere entirely different. As much as I complained about having to move when I was young, I also enjoyed getting to make a fresh start with a clean slate in a new place. I’m not crazy about the climate and geography where I live. I want four seasons, forests and hills, being able to be somewhere different with less than four hours of driving. But that kind of move would require either getting a day job that takes me elsewhere or making a lot more money. I caught myself looking into a grad school program that would move me into an entirely different career field the other day, just because it would give me an excuse to move, though I don’t really want a regular job.

So I guess I’ll get a new kitchen tablecloth, maybe a new bedspread, try some new activities, and take some day trips and hope that settles me down for a little while. Realizing what’s going on has helped. Some of the changes I made in the past when I didn’t know what I was going through tended to be a bit self-destructive, metaphorically burning things down just to get that sense of change. Now I recognize that and don’t do anything that I might regret later when the urge passes.

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