Patrick C. Keaveny

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One Year Out, A Lifetime To Go.

Blog | Life | Third Culture Life

Well, it’s been a full year plus a couple of months since I moved back to Colorado.

Sure, I’ve moved a lot in my life. And you may be asking, “but Patrick, you’ve spent more than a year in other places, so what makes this any different?”

Or you may be asking, “wait, you’ve only been in Colorado a year?”

Or you may be asking, “seriously, who gives a fuck? Now let’s go get a beer.”

Well, if you’re in the camp of people who would ask the first question, here’s why this move is different: because for the first time in my life, I’m not focused on trying to leave.

Before Colorado, I probably moved to five different cities in as many years. Not for any reason in particular, other than I felt like I needed to move.

I can’t fully explain why, because I honestly don’t know why. The most likely reason is because I grew up in the Government, so while most people get uncomfortable with getting old, getting married, or getting a 401-K, I get uncomfortable with staying put.

But about a year and a half ago, something changed. I started having nightmares. Nightmares about growing old enough to see the world die. Nightmares about my teeth falling out and my fingernails bleeding. Nightmares about my parents getting old. Nightmares of my family forgetting who I was because I had been a stranger for so long.

It seemed there was only one thing to do once I could no longer ignore these nightmares: move home.

From the moment I made that decision right up until about a month ago, I felt great. This last year I’ve been able to do all the things I’ve been dreaming about doing for the last few years. I go on bike rides and brew beer with my dad. I go to lunch and to the movies with my brothers. I hang out and do Pub Trivia with the friends I’ve had since College. I teach children to ski, spend time in the mountains, and work in an office where there’s always rad music playing. I watch Stranger Things and Big Little Lies with my mother while we talk about life, growing up, and what it’s like to have kids. I’ve done everything I’ve ever wanted to do with my family and have felt absolutely fucking phenomenal about it.

And yet, the nightmares haven’t gone away.

Instead, they’ve been replaced by new nightmares. Nightmares about being trapped inside of a steel box while the world outside passes me by. Nightmares about old men without teeth talking to each other about their glory days. Nightmares about my skin withering and becoming dust, so that all is left of me when I die is the stuff that goes into the ground.

I can only imagine that my new feeling of irritability, of being trapped even, is due to the one thing that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to escape: the addiction to impermanence.

Third Culture Kids, despite all of their wonderful experiences, often have trouble adjusting to permanent situations when they grow older. Some lash out and become angry at everyone. Some sink into a deep depression. I’m no different. I’m feeling the need for change, the need for everything to change, the need for my entire world to be completely flipped upside down so that I’m forced to adapt to changing situations.

But unfortunately, I made a decision when I moved back that I was not going to move out of Colorado unless something major came up. So now instead of having to adapt to changing situations, I have to adapt to un-changing ones.

Which scares the hell out of me more than any nightmare I’ve ever had.