Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Native is Restless

I know when I'm getting restless because I start to crave things that are totally out of character for me. Leading up to my 30th birthday, I wanted a tattoo. I went so far as to research local tattoo artists who had a style I liked, and to find samples of work similar to what I wanted. The year before, in the months before my ex and I separated, I was convinced I wanted - no, needed, for mental health reasons - a motorcycle. I looked into classes to get my license, I talked to a coworker who owned one, I even priced them. And I was infuriated when my ex said he didn't like the idea and didn't want me to do it. His concern for my safety felt suffocating.

In retrospect, I didn't really want a tattoo (what if I hated it in 10 years? Or 2 years? Or 2 months?), nor did I really want a motorcycle (they're dangerous!). I wanted what these things represented for me: excitement, freedom, and most of all, something new and different.

And yet, I don't think it's news to anyone that I'm actually a total control freak and pretty risk averse. The reality is that even when I crave motorcycles and tattoos, I'm most comfortable leading a pretty quiet life. I don't pick up and move across the country for a change of pace, I don't sell all my things and travel the world for a year, I don't get tattoos, and I definitely don't ride motorcycles. Those are all things that are far outside my comfort zone. I like the safety of predictability and routine, and I need the restoration offered by solitude.

But I hate those things about myself too. I feel boring. I'm embarrassed that I'd rather spend Saturday night at home than partying downtown until 4am. I feel silly for spending my 20s going to grad school and buying a home instead of traveling the world. I wish I had done and seen more when I was young and unencumbered by a mortgage and the other trappings of adulthood. Sometimes I feel so suffocated by my little life that I want to scream. But I don't know any other way to be.

I try incorporating little bits of "excitement" into my life in the hope that it will be enough to make me happy with it. Still, I find myself yearning for something different, what I perceive to be "more" and "better." I don't know what that is exactly or what it really looks like. And worst of all, I don't think I'd be happy if I actually had it, because it's not really who I am.

Someone once told me that yes, the grass is always greener on the other side, because there's more shit over there (shit = manure = fertilizer = greener grass, get it? ha!). Rationally, I know that life is a series of trade-offs, and that I should accept myself as I am. The life I have is a pretty good one, better than what most people in the world have, and I should just be thankful for that. But I can't avoid the nagging idea that crops up periodically that I should be doing something more, even if I don't know what that is.


The Plush Gourmet said...

Great one! I think we all feel that feeling and express it is our own ways. My ex-husband was older than I am. My new lover 14 years younger - the yo-yo effect I call it. I like my serene quiet boring life out here in the woods by myself, and have finally learned not to give in to the tattoo and motorcycle urges ~ sounds like you have too :)

Streetlights94 said...

There is a trade off. I, too, regret not traveling more when I had opportunities to do study abroad programs, etc. To see the world. Instead, we now travel as much as possible as a family. Within reason with budgets, etc. I think there are always little chances here and there to incorporate "excitement" into our lives whenever we have a chance. It's like quilting. You just kind of add little patches here and there. I like to take classes to learn new things, and though that might be boring to some, it satisfies that thirst for me now. I take photography classes, and I once did cake decorating.

I also got a tattoo and my husband rides a Harley.

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