I should have figured it out long ago.
Like when we had nap-time in kindergarten and I never slept because the other kids’ noises and stirrings distracted me.
Like when I took tap dance lessons at five and lost interest before we shuffled off to Buffalo.
Like when at nine, I began four excruciating years of clarinet lessons. Again, the repetitive nature of practice, required in tap and tootling, turned me off. If I didn’t learn something quickly, if it required discipline, it bored me before I conquered it. I counted the minutes instead of the beat.
Like when my elementary school report cards reported that I talked to my neighbors too much in class, distracting them, interrupting the teacher, and derailing me from the task at hand.
Like when Mom, with her thick German accent, angrily yelled at me, “Why are you so impatient?” without really seeking an answer or solution. Like it was my fault. Like being me was bad.
Like when I did homework, reading in my room. I couldn’t stay focused. My attention drifted from the radio to the view out the window to the US map on my wall to daydreams. I eventually did finish the reading but not until I had paused more times than there were pages in the assignment.
Like when I went to a museum as a kid and I rushed from one exhibit to another, ignoring the explanations printed or spoken. Quick glances were sufficient. I was the first to the exit. I still do that as an adult.
Like when I first heard Chopin’s “Minute Waltz” or Barbra Streisand’s 1966 vocal version and thought, “How the hell long is this gonna last?”
Like in high school study hall. Oh, how I hated study hall. Too many people around. Too much going on. Memories of kindergarten naptime. I couldn’t study there.
Like after graduating from college, when I seldom read recommended books. “Is it more than 250 pages long?” I’d ask. “And how big is the print?” That was how I measured my interest.
Like when I interrupt people who are telling a story because they are, in my mind, too slow. Get to the fucking point, an inner-voice yells with impatience.
Like when I have a task to do, mowing the lawn or washing the car, for example, and I race through it, sacrificing quality work.
Like when I’m on a walk or taking a hike and I rush to reach the destination, but am the first to want to start back.
Like when I taught and the entire school observed daily 20-minute silent reading. I knew many of the kids were faking it while staff members, even office personnel, were honoring it. I, of course, faked it.
Like when I first heard about “binge-watching” TV series and thought I could never watch an entire season in one-sitting. I’d be antsy after two episodes.
Like when I took yoga and got bored within 15 minutes. Don’t even get me started on the eternal cooldown period at the end of class.
Like when I’m at the beach, tanning, and, while others lie flat and sleep or listen to music, I’m sitting up with pivoting head watching everything around me. And, dammit, forming deep wrinkles and shadows on my chest and stomach that don’t see the sun, creating a zebra tan.
Like when I’m at a religious service such as a lengthy wedding or a Passover Seder, and I’m thinking about anything else. Anything. Cookies. Barbra’s voice. That guy’s shirt. The Sea Hawks. Knock-knock jokes. That woman’s hideous hair. Dust. Anything.
And yet, I have the patience to focus on and complete several crossword puzzles or other word games daily.
And yet, I have the patience to complete, on occasion, large jigsaw puzzles alone.
And yet, I can get lost in a ninety-minute massage, forgetting that clocks and time exist.
And yet, I can focus on my writing for long periods. Like when I am listing situations during which my mind wanders, when ADHD sets in.
I should have figured it out long ago. But we didn’t have a name for it when I was a kid. And as an adult, I just accepted it as one of my quirks. ADHD is odd. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. There are so many degrees and variations. Is it possible I merely have ADHD-Lite?
Or is it possible I don’t have ADHD at all? Maybe I only have “A.” Attention. Yours. So, now I can wish you the best in 2020. Happy New Year!