As it seems increasingly likely that my days in the Bay Area are numbered, I've been thinking quite a bit about what brought me here, what made me leave, and what made me come back. I originally came out here in '98, on the coattails of a friend who got hired by a network company. Silicon Valley was the place I had read about since childhood, the mythical promised land where there was high tech on every corner, all the big companies were in one place, and there were untold wonders to behold. Some of that was true, at least. (I'm still miffed that I missed seeing the Icon Garden at Apple with the larger-than-life dogcow by a few months.) It didn't take me all that long to realize just how misguided some of my preconceptions were: most high-tech companies are utterly boring to wander through unless you adore cubicle farms or rows of tables; many of the companies are banal, boring, or both; and that it would be trivial for me to get from one place in the Bay Area to another.
That last bit had some foreshadowing, but it's only been fairly recently that I've come to (somewhat) understand how and why it affects me so much. I've known for quite a long time that I'm not inclined to enjoy travel qua travel; family trips to see the relatives were always an exercise in tedium, and I tried to read in the car as much as I could. I enjoyed seeing things once we got there, but if I could have just teleported I'd have been quite content to miss out on seeing the cows and the Mars Cheese Castle. As I got older, and able to go to faraway places of my own volition, I still didn't travel very far afield from my own devices. Going with somebody else was OK - but me, initiating something? That's very, very unusual.
As time went on, my allergic reaction to travel did not improve; if anything, it got worse. I knew it stressed me out, but I didn't realize just how much it did and I did a rather terrible job of communicating such, as well. (It was a primary factor in the breakdown of my marriage.) I got better at figuring out my tolerance for being in transit, and how much I could take on a regular basis, but it wasn't until 2002 - after having lost 70 pounds and being suicidal much of the time - that I started seeing a psych and having a more formal framework for how my psyche actually works.
The short version: I have ADD, Asperger's, and chronic depression - and the three combine together so that if I get bored and anxious by some task, I wig the fuck out from it. Normally the ADD+Asperger's cancel each other out more than reinforce, but there are some truly nasty failure modes from when they positively reinforce. Add that to my 'descend into torpor' primary manifestation of depression, and it means that not only am I not likely to travel, but that even contemplating doing the task can be enough to send me into the downward spiral. Once I'm actually on my way it's not usually so bad - but that also usually implies that the other bits (planning, scheduling, etc) that are anxiety-inducing have also been taken care of, too. Lo, I am a manifestation of Buridan's ass.
I have yet to figure out a non-oversharing way of expressing this to folks, though; "Sorry, I can't attend your D&D sessions because I'd eventually end up clutching my knees to my chest and rocking back and forth on the bed and hiding under the covers" takes people aback somewhat, or provoke disbelief. (But I'm not great at expressing my emotional needs in general, either - especially as I often don't know what they are.)
The upshot is that while there are people I would be utterly delighted to see, I just don't have the spoons to go see them. (Social anxiety means that I'm not too likely to suggest plans, either.) If I had a car, that would certainly help, but that doesn't seem too likely. So.... between feeling somewhat trapped in the city and not being inspired by the culture or jobs around here (which is probably worth a post of its own), GTFO seems like it's the thing to do.