Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Restless Life Syndrome

It used to happen randomly, without any warning. I'd wake up in the middle of the night and my legs would just have to move. The only way I could describe it was to say it was as though they had each drank twelve cups of coffee. I called it crazy legs.

I'd lie in bed, shuffling them, but they weren't satiated until I hopped out of bed. In the dark I'd march, do high kicks, jog to the bathroom and scrounge for NyQuil, Benadryl, old prescriptions that warned of drowsiness side effects. Nothing worked.

It was utterly miserable.

After several years of suffering I saw someone on TV discussing restless leg syndrome. "That's it!" I jumped up and pointed at the TV set. "That's what happens to me!!"

I haven't had it in ages, thankfully. Pregnancy seems to have cured it. Or maybe it was the medicine prescribed by a doctor, once I finally knew my crazy legs problem had a name.

I'm on the phone with my husband who is traveling on business. He's exhausted, but I am lonely and want to talk. "I'm just...bored. Not bored. That's not the right word. Just...I don't know. I'm sick of our status quo."

"Let's see if we can get away for a weekend. We'll go to the Inn above Onion Creek," he tries.

"It's not something that can be cured by a weekend away. I'm talking about a life change. Don't you want that?"

"NO," he replies. "I'm so tired. I'm so focused on just keeping my job, and trying to enjoy myself now and again - no. I like boring. Boring is good. I'm too tired to think about anything but boring."

That's part of the problem. I'm frustrated that my incredibly creative, artistic husband spends his entire day marketing a product he cares nothing about for a company that cares nothing about him and that could and might lay him off tomorrow. "That's life," he says. "That's how the majority of Americans live their lives."

"But we don't have to be like those Americans," I counter.

"Oh babe. We are so not on the same page right now."

That's normal. The not being on the same page thing, I mean. For our entire marriage, my husband has said, let's move! Let's go somewhere! Let's go live abroad! Let's go be missionaries for a year someday!

And I have sworn up and down that No. I will never leave Houston. My mom is here, my friends are here, my church is here, I like my big house with the small mortgage, I like my nice clean neighborhood with the good schools and the tall trees and the landscaped medians. I want to stay here and be safe forever. No.

What is happening to me?

After I hang up the phone with him, I realize: my life has restless leg syndrome. I have Restless Life Syndrome.

I don't want to stay here. I don't want my kids to grow up in this beautiful upper-middle-class suburban neighborhood where they'll join Young Life in high school then go off to a state college and pledge a fraternity and then work for a big firm and then get married and live in a suburb like the one they grew up in. I just want something different.

But for years, almost forty years, that has been exactly what I wanted, exactly what I've striven to create. Until the past year. Over the course of the past year, something has changed. What I want has drastically changed.

I want to go live in a hut in Africa.

There, I said it.

What is happening to me?

But the thing is I probably don't want to live in a hut in Africa. Or a tent in Haiti. Or anywhere uncomfortable. I have never, ever been that girl. I don't like bugs. I don't even like camping. I sleep with seven pillows and a white noise machine and I am addicted to several programs on the Bravo TV Network. Plus I am kind of shy around strangers and you know what else? I'm flat out xenophobic. And I'm not just scared of people from strange countries. I'm scared of, like, Germans.

So what on earth is happening to me?

I bury my head in my pillow and before I can begin to pray, I burst into tears. I don't even know what to pray. The Holy Spirit groans for me and whispers a song in my ear, my favorite hymn from when I was a little girl, sharing a hymnal with my grandma in her tiny Woods New Hope Baptist Church:

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.

Mold me and make me after Thy will,

While I am waiting, yielded and still.

And I realize that the waiting, the yielding, is the hardest part. But for whatever this is that is happening to me, the waiting is the now part.

And for now, I must be still.


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