Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wandering Soul Syndrome

There are people who find a spot in life and make themselves comfortable there.  I was one of those people until the day I had my first injection of estrogen.  I realized, deep down, that I was crossing a threshold from which I could not retreat and would very likely lead to upheaval in every element of my world.

Until that time my life was very clearly divided into 3 parts.  I call the first my "Transient" Phase, and it covered the entire period from my birth until my high school graduation.  My father was an academic in a very specialized field and was paid to come to universities on one year fellowships to help establish biophysics departments there.  As a result, we moved almost every year.  When I think back to my time in grade school it's all based on where we were living at the time....6th grade Buffalo NY, 7th grade Santa Barbara CA, 8th grade East Lansing Michigan, 9th grade back to Buffalo.  Over a period of 5 years I attended 5 different schools.  Whereas kids of those in military service sometimes to refer to themselves as "Army brats" I referred to myself as an "Academic brat".  Different specialty, same result.

The second part of my life covered my 4 years of college.  I was anxious to live on my own but circumstance had other ideas.  I went to 3 colleges in 2 countries, and took an entire semester off, before graduating from Syracuse University in 1981.  Those years seemed to continue the theme of Transience that had dominated my life until then - the difference being that until that time I couldn't get away even if I wanted because I wasn't "of age" but for those four years, I was simply being practical.

That all ended one night in November 1990 when I met a woman who would eventually become my wife.  With her I found the stability that had eluded me to that point in life, and after a year of getting established we bought our first house near Rochester NY.  We lived in that house for 15 years - that was my Stable Phase.

Artists rendition of "home" on Cottonwood Ln, in Pittsford NY....
My son was born there.  My career grew from nothing and became successful there.  I had a side business that hatched and thrived there.  We made lots of friends there, and eventually the entire rest of my immediate family came to live there (only briefly).  My father died there.  The roots that had eluded me to that point in life finally took hold, growing deep and strong.

In 1995 we decided that we'd had enough of the harsh winters there and bought a house in Scottsdale AZ.  It seemed like paradise, and we expected to live there for the balance of our lives.  That calm lasted until the moment I described earlier, in 1997, when I got that first shot.  Everything that followed was a gradual but accelerating trajectory into the theme of my early days - no roots.

I left the Valley in 2000 with the expectation of setting new roots in Austin, TX.  I had been hired by Dell, and it was my first job ever as me - every job before that was thanks to the exterior I presented before transition.  I envisioned setting those same roots that I had established in Rochester there but time and circumstance had other ideas.  After 4 years I was back in the Valley.

Over the past 10 years I've had more than 10 addresses.  People have

The Valley seems to have a way of calling/bringing me back.  It's the most fertile place I've lived as far as career opportunities go.  I've got more dear friends there than anywhere else.  I love the weather, and the quality of life.  I've learned the hard way that there are specific areas of the Valley that energize me, and others with which I feel no connection whatsoever.

All that writing is a round-about way of saying that I am hoping that my history of Wandering Soul Syndrome is finally coming to an end.  Ever the optimist, I'm approaching what happens over the next several months cautiously and for many significant reasons I will refuse to fully relinquish my connection to the the Low Country.  But if and when the stability I'm seeking proves to be more than a mirage I'll do what needs to be done - whether that be in Phoenix or in Charleston.

I'd be lying if I said I haven't grown weary of all of this.  But I'd also be lying if I said I'd allow that weariness to determine where I ultimately land.  I suppose time and circumstance will work their magic, as usual, to help make the decisions clear.  Until then, onwards.

Last week a group of us spent a week in Phoenix to attend dear Maria's Holiday Party.  Dear friends came from all over the country to attend, and I had a wonderful time.  It reminded me how much I miss life there and was a very much appreciated pre-welcome back.

Some of my dearest friends in the world converged in the Valley recently for Maria's Holiday event
One of the highlights (among a week of highlights) was a weekend run along my old running route.  In the earliest days, before transition, I started to train my body in an effort to re-shape it.  All the muscle I'd built over the years needed to go, and I needed to lose 20 pounds to get to a place where I'd be comfortable moving forward.  In order to achieve that I trained as hard as I've trained for any physical event or competition I've ever entered.  A key part of that involved early morning runs near our north Scottsdale neighborhood - up near Pinnacle Peak.

It's gorgeous country.  Unspoiled, large saguaro cactus everywhere, largely removed from "civilization" - even after these many years since I ran with a keen sense of purpose.  I took an hour on Saturday afternoon to re-trace those steps and although I'm not as fast as I remember the run was more enjoyable because of the appreciation of what those many miles along those roads have led to.

The beauty of the Sonoran desert along my running route - a truly magical place for me.
I've had some of my most introspective moments on those runs, where the mind just wanders and goes places it doesn't seem to go when the body isn't in motion.  My most recent run was similarly magical, and I look forward to doing more of them in the future.

On the medical front I went to the surgeon today to get the results of my recent CT scan and was told I've got a clean bill of health.  My discomfort is likely due to physical exertion but there's nothing that needs to be "fixed".  I'm glad, and relieved.

I talked with my mom today.  I've got a lot on my plate, and a lot on my mind, and talking with her helped.  I expect to see her again sometime between now and the New Year, on my way to Phoenix.  I appreciate the opportunities I've got while I can.  Like so many things - you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.


1 comment:

Mae West said...

Have a safe trip to Phoenix and hope all goes well at your new job, Donna! Best of health and happiness to you in 2016!