Recently I went to meet some friends at the home of another dear friend from high school. I had been to her house often in years past, but not for several years. She lives only about twenty miles from me in a town I knew well… I thought. I also thought I knew exactly how to get to her house,
It was a beautiful summer day. I felt jubilant at spending time with three dear old classmates and drove cheerily along the familiar roads.
I “knew” her street was a right turn off the main thoroughfare and her house would be on the immediate left. It wasn’t there. In fact there were no houses there, but only some commercial buildings. I kept driving, thinking the house must be just down the road. In a panic, I drove some miles around the countryside, certain I was hopelessly lost. Worse, I didn’t have her phone number entered in my new smart phone. I couldn’t call and get directions.
Eventually I simply drove back home feeling totally bemused and crazy.
At home I found my friend’s number and called her. She explained that I had missed her road one street beyond the one I turned on.
A week later I went back, this time certain beyond a doubt that I “knew” what her house looked like…and AGAIN I missed it! This time I called her from my cell in a panic. She told me I had just been in her driveway, turned around and left again!!! I went back and we had a good laugh and a wonderful visit.
But I can’t get over my strange “loss of memory” and, after pondering the matter in a less frantic state of mind, I begin to see what happens to me when something I am certain I know turns out to be not so.
First of all, I had formed a picture in my mind of exactly what her house looked like… (Based on a few visits ten years ago) I would not accept that my ‘picture’ was so wrong. But in ten years things had changed. There were larger trees shading her road, the hill she was on was not nearly as high as my memory drew it, and the house itself seemed smaller.
Memory is tricky business anyway, and I compound that with a tenacious ego that insists on its own accuracy. I convince myself the pictures I have painted in my mind are correct, and I obstinately hang onto them despite all evidence to the contrary.
Yet I do get lost quite frequently due to my poor sense of direction… I recount amusing tales of detours on unfamiliar country-roads and of driving in circles on familiar city-streets… I nearly always tend to turn left when I should turn right, and vice-versa… and I have had this problem from the time I first learned to drive. But since this has been a life-long issue for me, I’m less concerned about my sanity or the possible beginning of dementia or worse.
Still, I really shouldn’t venture away from home at all some days!
Or perhaps I could teach myself how to use the GPS in my car!