That restless feeling kicked up a couple of weeks ago, making me want to pack up and hit the road.  Tonight it is just as strong – an electric current striking out into my limbs, urging them to move, and leaving my stomach slightly twisted.  I don’t sleep well when I feel this way.  I lie awake, thinking of escape plans.  When I described it to Jodi she asked if I feel like I am in the wrong place. Maybe I am.  Or maybe I’m just in the right place for the wrong reasons.


Nothing in my life is permanent.  I live in a temporary arrangement.  I have a temporary job.  I feel like this is a temporary city.  I suppose my friends are permanent, but the ones I most value will remain friends regardless of time or geography.  I could find another place to live here, but then I might find a job I want somewhere else.  I could find a job somewhere else, but then I might be in the wrong place again.  And what if I find another job here only to have a better opportunity open up somewhere else?  I am getting a handle on my finances, but if I move I might undo the progress I have made.  The general unrest in my life leads me to avoid spending time with nice guys who might want to settle down; I don’t want to involve a nice man in my mess.  I long for permanency, but I can’t seem to commit to anything.  If I could organize all of my options into detailed lists, arranged in order of importance, I could maybe find a way forward, but even that seems impossible right now.  I am aware, however, that for me geography is the easiest thing to change.  It makes me the most hopeful because it is so thorough.  Everything is different when you move to a new state.  Even there, though, I get stuck wondering whether making the decision to move would allow the other pieces to fall in place or just add regrets.


I like being here, near my family.  A large part of me would regret moving away from them again.  It will never be enough for me to live through them.  Right now that is what I feel I am doing.  Or trying to do.  Moving home has allowed me to “sort of” have children.  I’m not sure that I want my own, and it’s rather a moot point since my doctors don’t think I can have them anyway.  By living here I get to spoil my nieces and nephews and then go back to an evening with friends, or a late night at work, or an early visit to the gym.  I’ve become used to doing things my way and in my time.  I’ve also spent a lot of time helping raise other people’s children.  I like them, but I know they are a lot of work.  And they’re permanent.  When you have children they should get your attention.  It’s what they deserve.  But I’m not sure I can give it.  I like to listen to an album without being interrupted for lunch orders or fights over toys.  I like to watch movies all the way through and have adult conversations with adult guests. Unfortunately, I also think it is magical to watch a child try something new or just snuggle up for a nap.  Spending time with my nieces and nephews gives me the best of both.


So I am fractured.  I feel guilt over not being able to commit to having my own.  Resentment that it isn’t really my decision.  Joy at retaining my freedom.  Sorrow that this is the closest I’ll get to children of my own.  And shame that they aren’t really something I can offer a partner.  Living here both eases and multiplies my regrets.  Spending time with my nieces and nephews lets me waffle between having children and remaining single, and it reminds me that my own life is more of a support role to my parents and sisters.


This past week, as Jodi wrote, we spent time with a beautiful, loving family.  Like Whoopi Goldberg’s character in Moonlight and Valentino I want to sit on their porch just so I can feel the love.  It made me wish for a family of my own.  That’s a wish I can usually bury beneath all of the conditions precedent.  I know there are so many things that would have to happen for it to be possible that I stop wasting energy thinking about it.  But my own home seems empty after last week.  The feeling will fade, I’m sure, but for the moment I yearn to create a web of familial ties I can wrap around myself.


I think it is the implausibility of actually spinning that web that is making me want to run.  Staying here, with my ambivalence rocking me back and forth on unsteady legs, only leaves me wishing for a solid stretch of land far away from swirling waters.  There are so many reminders of my indecision! Nieces, nephews, friends with children, friends thinking about having children, social plans revolving around parenting schedules….


The emptiness eats at me occasionally.  If I keep moving I can hold it at bay, but if I slow down it starts biting at my heels.  In the past I just focused on work.  Work is a place where I can excel.  The moral issues are clearer, or at least easier to compartmentalize.  Now it seems easier – and more appropriate, perhaps – to focus on family.  I was mad at my sisters for not valuing the life I live simply because it doesn’t include children.  But it isn’t fair to say that it is all on them.  Rightly or wrongly, I succumb to popular opinion and devalue my life for the same reason.  It doesn’t matter that the best solution for me may be to actively decide to let go of the question.  It hovers over me, urging me to act.


So the electricity tingles through my arms.  My stomach vibrates to the same tune.  I won’t be able to rest because I’ll be thinking and wishing.  If I could just resolve to move forward, in any direction….  But that isn’t how I work.  I have to have reasons and logic and purpose.  And if I can’t change myself, maybe the only thing I can change is my geography.  But tonight I won’t escape the question with a tour of mid-America.  As Hemingway admonished, “never mistake movement for action.”  Tonight I will hope an Ambien turns off the power.  Tomorrow I will start thinking again.  I might not be able to force an answer on myself, but maybe if I stop running I can force myself to find one.