6 Days, 1990 Miles, 40 Bands, 4 People, 2 Generations

Text: This is what ADHD spontaneity can look like...Six days, 1990 miles, 40 bands, 2 teenagers, 2...'adults'? Will it pay off of be a bust??? Check out my new blog to find out. four photos: Shasta mountain, black car in the sun, concert venue with pastel mohawk person, a carful of 2 adults and 2 teens.

TL;DR

Is ADHD spontaneity a gift or a burden?  The answer for me: It’s a gift unless overindulged and then becomes a burden.

ADHD and Impulsivity v. Spontaneity:

About 3 months ago, Rob sent me a link for a concert with a lot of familiar names on it.  Some from my late childhood and some from my college days.  It was a concert with bands who play music that I used to live on, but rarely revisit now.  It was a concert with bands who play music that my kiddo listens to incessantly.  It was $200 a ticket.  It was in LA.  And it was before the end of the school year.  

We can’t afford $200 a ticket for anything right now.  We can’t afford a trip to LA.  And my kiddo couldn’t afford to miss the last week of school.  

So, what did I say?  What did I do?  

I said “Oooh!  Let’s go!  That will be so awesome!  Alex will love that!  But wait, Alex would have a much better time if he brought a friend.  Alex, you can invite a friend if they can pay for their own ticket!”  And because enthusiasm or maybe impulsivity is contagious, and Rob really likes to go see music, and I rarely agree to go see music, Rob said, “Really?!? Ok!  Let’s go!” and we bought our tickets, invited a friend for Alex who was able to purchase his own ticket, and it became a thing on the calendar.  

AND because we now had 4 people to get down to LA in the early days of June (and maybe because I love road trips), we decided to drive there from our home town of Portland, OR.  Without thinking about it, I decided that driving would be so much cheaper and easier than flying…

What the f@%$ was I thinking? 

Alex has had a rough year at school with a month-long teacher strike, an ice storm that stole another six school days, and a number of other factors that had him struggling to maintain his normally effortless high GPA.  Here I was talking about pulling him out of another three days of school at the critical end of the school year.  

We’re fairly broke.  I was laid off three years ago and have only worked sporadically since then.  Rob was laid off last year (right after we bought our forever house) and has been contracting, but the paychecks are not the same. Our house is in need of a huge amount of renovation.  And we are both starting our own businesses.  These businesses will be successful and will return us to comfortable incomes eventually, but eventually is certainly not here yet.  

Spending 10 hours a day in the car with two teenagers seemed like it could be extremely unpleasant. 

And also, traveling for 5 days requires 4 hotels, 15 meals, and innumerable caffeinated beverages, and much fuel for the car too (FYI- flying is cheaper unless you pack all your own food and camp instead of staying in hotels).

So, was it impulsivity (feels irresponsible and not thought out) or spontaneity (feels fun and irresponsible and not thought out, but sometimes worth it)?

The drive down was exhausting.  The LAST thing I wanted to do after driving 20 hours in two days with zero alone time, little sleep, and much overstimulation, was to go to a 12 hour post-punk music festival with 40,000 other people, nowhere to sit, and little shade, in southern California, in the summer.  

But OMG, the kids had the time of their life.  They loved every band.  They wanted to (and did) stay until the bitter end (11:15 pm which is WAY past my bedtime!).  Rob and I found a somewhat comfortable place to sit in the shade in front of the stage that hosted the majority of bands we wanted to see.  It was overwhelming and loud and I definitely felt very old, but seeing the kids so excited was exhilarating and the people watching was spectacular.  

There was also a gleaming light at the end of the tunnel- I was finally going to meet my ADHD coaching school buddy and fellow coach in person!  After 1.5 years of talking incessantly over zoom, we were finally going to have breakfast together.  And it was SO GOOD to be together and to introduce our families.  Our husbands had much to talk about as we knew they would and we all talked for hours about life and transitions and work and businesses.  And the kids even behaved.  

To tell the truth, the kids were pretty excellent for the whole trip, if a little self-centered.  And Rob, lovely, go-with-the-flow, most amazing and supportive husband, Rob, was an angel throughout.  This trip would have been a disaster without him. 

We drove down on the 5 as it’s the fastest way, but I can’t handle the boredom of highways for all that long, so we (or maybe I) decided to drive back up on the coast.  It added about 5 hours to the trip, and that felt like an ok tradeoff…at least from the comfort of our bed when we were planning the trip. 

First stop on the way back was Santa Cruz.  The hotel was a 5 minute walk to the boardwalk. Did you know the movie Lost Boys (c. 1987) was filmed there?  Additionally, did you know that Alex’s friend was a complete and total Lost Boys fanatic???  I didn’t.  So we ended up spending extra hours in Santa Cruz as I’m a sucker and can’t squelch the excitement and enthusiasm of others just like I can’t do it to myself.  

And then we were off to Crescent City.  On the way were the redwoods.  I find so much peace in the enormity and age of a redwood grove.  So, even though we were starting late, I was still determined to have some time as a family, even just 15 minutes, out of the car and amongst the trees.  

Will I Find the Peace I Seek?

This was the only time that emotions flared for the trip.  The kids had absolutely NO interest in the redwoods.  They were exhausted after a marathon two hours on the Santa Cruz boardwalk and the 12 hour music festival just two days before.  I was overstimulated and so needed the peace I had experienced in previous trips to groves of redwoods.  

I really really wanted to share their stately, peaceful enormity with Alex.  But Alex was tired, body and soul, and was uninterested in my assurance that the wonder of the trees would rejuvenate. 

I was crushed, as we ADHDers can be, by my anticipation of a connection and the rejection of that connection.  I was sadly so crushed that I couldn’t even enjoy the trees myself, or my time with Rob amongst them.  I was just angry and sad.  I yelled at Alex about him acting selfish and ungrateful and we got back in the car for the rest of our long drive.  (Parenting teenagers in a neurodivergent household is a subject for another blog, or maybe a large volume of works, but I’m going to leave it for another day, or year…)

From Crescent City we drove up the Oregon coast to Lincoln city and returned home to Portland by 7 the next night.  

And back to the point: Was the advent of this trip a positive or negative result of my ADHD? 

Personally, and I believe in the minds of my adventure-mates, this was an overwhelmingly positive experience.  Yes, we created more debt for ourselves.  Yes, we didn’t get to enjoy the redwoods as I had hoped. 

We four had a grand adventure together.  An adventure we’ll never forget.  And despite our lack of connection in the redwoods, there was much connection in the sharing of the adventure as a whole.  The memories and the connection will last long past our recovery time (both personal and financial). 

What about ADHD and Spontaneity v. Implusivity?

Would this trip have happened without my ADHD?  I don’t know.  I’ve always had ADHD, so I have nothing to compare it to. The punchline, though, is that we just can’t throw caution to the wind and pull this kind of shit all the time.  Our credit would not survive and our relationships would be strained.  Spontaneity is great and fun can create amazing experiences, but it definitely becomes impulsivity when overindulged.  

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