Elizabeth Willis Barrett
I am a fidgeter. Sitting still isn’t imbedded in my makeup. When the family is gathered in the chaotic family room to visit after dinner, I have to hold on to myself to keep from jumping up and grabbing a broom or a dishcloth or the bin for the child-scattered blocks. I breathe in deeply, hoping that the air will moor me to the recliner and keep me from my manic disorder of constant busyness.
I heard once that fidgeters aren’t overweight because they burn calories in unnecessary movements. That’s a comfort. But I don’t know if it quite makes up for the offenses I incur by organizing all the medicine cupboard’s contents while talking to a brother-in-law or scrubbing the couch while having a heart to heart conversation with a daughter.
Besides alienating people, fidgeting makes everything take longer. Take eating for example. I put the food on my plate. Arrange it. Get up to grab a napkin. Get up to get some water. By the time I actually put the first bite in my mouth, some of the family have finished eating and are out jumping on the trampoline.
I fidget before I write. I take the computer from its long-standing spot on the kitchen table, situate it on my lap, check Facebook, look up tidbits about Julia Child, look around my room where I am sitting in the most comfortable chair ever and decide to put a few papers away that have held a spot on my Dad’s old trunk for three weeks too long.
Then I have to fidget around my subject for a while, fingering the words in an uneven typing until the piece takes shape and I can run with it.
I often find myself–or more accurately, lose myself–rifling through my purse. It reminds me of my mom who used to do a lot of rifling in her dementia. Sometimes I forget what I’m searching for and am afraid I’m just doing it for movement. Scary!
One of my cousins mentioned that he was concerned about another cousin. She fidgets so much, he said, that sometimes she misses airline flights and important meetings. Really? He almost made fidgeting sound like a precursor to Alzheimer’s and I definitely don’t need any more precursors to that disease.
A friend of mine can get right down to things without the incessant fidget. She prides herself on her three-minute showers, for instance. My showers take an un-record-breaking twenty minutes. My mind has lots of fidgeting to do and the shower is a great place to think things over. I would feel very cheated if I only had three minutes for a shower.
Many years ago, this same friend’s daughter was invited to my daughter’s swimming party. On the morning of the party my friend made her daughter a new swimsuit–from scratch! It took her a mere two hours.
If the thought of making my daughter a swimsuit ever got past the filters in my brain, it would have taken me a month to make most likely. I would have had to check out all the fabric stores, making sure I chose the best fabric and pattern. It wouldn’t have ended up actually being the best fabric and pattern, but I would have tried my hardest. Then I would have had to drag out the sewing machine and find a place to set it up. I would have anguished over the layout of the fabric and read the instructions over and over. I’d have had to look for scissors sharp enough to cut the fabric and gather enough pins to attach the pattern. Then I would have tried to figure out the right pieces to sew together. Eventually, I could have sewn the swimsuit perfectly according to instructions only to have my daughter refuse to wear it. What a waste of wasted actions!
I wish I could do some things faster. There are many waiting projects that could use a few minutes of salvaged time. I think my fidgeting comes from having so many plans, for wanting to do so many things in this short life. While I’m watering the plants outside, I think of something I want to write about. I have to drop the hose, run in the house, grab some paper, find a pen and write down the thought that is sure to escape if I don’t anchor it down with ink. I can be doing my daily stretches with Jane Fonda from an ancient VHS tape and pause it several times to text a friend or find a photo or refill the hummingbird feeder so the little birds won’t get discouraged and go elsewhere.
Some might say I have ADHD or something like it but I don’t think so. I just have a myriad of things I want to do and fidgeting is my way of coping. To each her own!