The Neurodivergent Middle-Aged Joy of Solo Road Trips

The exhilaration that comes with autonomy, freedom and the space to enjoy it

Jae L

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Photo by Will Truettner on Unsplash

Road trips are without a doubt one of my favorite things. To follow one of the roads that lead out of this large, busy and noisy city into unfolding wide-open spaces is pure joy. As buildings give way to forests, my heat-rate slows and I exhale properly for the first time since I can’t remember when. Probably the last road trip.

This simple joy is so integral to my wellbeing that I will never take it for granted. During the pandemic, government directives confined me to the city for months on end while wiping out a whole lot of mental health supports. It was a dark time, the likes of which I hope never to see again.

It is solo road trips that are my lifeblood. While not dismissing the value of travel shared with loved ones, it is a very different experience. There is an exhilarating freedom that comes with only having to answer to yourself, if only for a few days.

When I was younger, I did a lot of travel by myself. While in hindsight it seems like a bold statement of female autonomy, at the time it was purely out of necessity. I was rarely in anything resembling a relationship (more likely to be mourning the premature end of one of the failure of one to begin) or anchored in a group of friends or family.

But my desire to travel the world was no match for social norms which in any event seem much less solid when you’re constantly on the move.

There’s a restlessness in me that craves the sensation of constantly moving in a forward direction, literally and figuratively. It’s probably why some of my best thinking happens while walking or driving (provided environmental distractions don’t intrude). Beyond the physical sensation of movement, it’s the sensation of being propelled forward.

Staying in the one place feels like a kind of death. It is an aspect of me that is completely at odds with being autistic but squarely within the experience of ADHD. Chasing the dopamine hit of the new and novel to feed my constitutional need for variety and constant change.

I might be bored with my ordinary, but there are endless examples of someone…

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Jae L

Queer, neurodivergent and in the business of defying expectations. Doing my best to answer the questions I keep asking myself. diverge999@gmail.com