I've always had a lousy sense of direction. Even as a child, I remember getting lost on a three block walk to a friend's house. Whenever anyone asked me where my school was, for example, I drew a complete blank. Perhaps the other kids were paying attention as our intrepid driver careened through the neighborhoods in Bus 22 towards Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Not me--the bus could have sprung paddles and propelled us to London every day for all I noticed or cared.
When I reached age 16 and got my license, I thought I might magically master the twist and turns that would lead me to my destinations. Alas, no. The map (remember roadmaps?) was my constant companion whenever I strayed from my habitual route to work--and forget about detours! I should have traveled with a bag of breadcrumbs, a la Hansel and Gretel, to mark my path. Inevitably, I'd pull into a gas station, hopelessly turned around, listen intently to the cashier's instructions--then take off again in the opposite direction from what had been recommended seconds before.
Getting older, it’s gotten worse. For some reason, even if I can get somewhere, I get all befuddled when it's time for the return trip. Nothing looks familiar, no landmark rings any kind of bell with me. I blame my chronic inattention to my surroundings. Don’t ask me the color of your carpet or the make of your vehicle—I haven’t a clue.
My mom Joanie never drove, and gabbed her way through life in the passenger seat, Mrs. Oblivious. God help you if you asked her to find a location. She would look at you as if you’d just requested a short-cut to Jupiter. Luckily Mom never had to find her way out of a paper bag on her own.
Among my offspring, Rose, PJ and Julie can navigate pretty well on the highways and byways. They can find IKEA without ending up at Walmart, even if they’ve only been there once before. Sheridan is spooky: for a non-driver he can lead anyone anywhere with 100% accuracy. But Evan is my Traveling Twin. He was born and raised in Oreland and still has trouble finding his way around. We thought it quite ironic that he was charged with driving a submarine in the Navy, and often pictured the boat heading the wrong way around the world with Ev at the helm.
Steve is Directions King, hands down. He can accurately find a place he hasn’t driven to in 30 years. He NEVER gets lost. I find him very obnoxious.
I worry that my directionless-ness has a parallel to my off-road existence. Am I drifting through the years without a clear sense of where I’m bound? Do I have a five-year, heck, a five-day plan for my future? Am I always asking for help, then roaring off the opposite way?
Is it too late to learn to watch where I’m going on the complicated road of life?