ROAD-SCRAMBLE: June 21, 2016
I had planned to write a Summer Solstice piece today but my mind doesn’t want to go there. I’m all over the map in my head, but not where I want to be.
It’s kind of the way I’ve been driving these days too… I seem to keep hitting detours wherever I go and that is really frustrating… and scary… I lose all sense of direction and don’t know where I am. This is worrisome. AM I LOSING MY MIND?… Is this a sign of bad things to come? No, really. I do worry. But I guess I’ve always been a bit ‘off track’, confused, out of sync with my surroundings. I live too much in my head, I guess.
Anyhow, during the past couple of weeks there is road construction on the route to my job at Walmart. Everyone, including the customers, are forced to meander the local roads attempting to find the secret path to our Supercenter… so I’m not alone on this one. But everyone else seems to have found easier routes than me.
I wind through a series of hilly streets and neighborhoods just guessing at turns and whether they will lead me toward, or away from, my destination. No sense of direction, me. And especially at night! The lights on buildings and cars totally boggle my mind and I have absolutely no recognition of my surroundings… even pretty familiar ones. I have actually had to stop at the side of a road and identify landmarks so as to avoid blindly going onto a dead-end or private drive. But I think I have carved out a pretty regular and repeatable route now after a week of barely making it to work on time.
But then one day, driving home from a lunch date, I came upon a road block where there had just been a bad accident. I panicked at first and chose the wrong turn for detour, ending up going the wrong direction. But I screwed my head back on and realized that if I just retraced me path back to the detour point, I could just follow the long line of others cars also being detoured. Voila! that worked!
I tell myself I should not panic as this is all within my own home territory and I should come across some familiar marker to get back on track quickly… but I know I don’t trust myself to make the right choice… And I proved myself absolutely right again the other day coming back from a friend’s house in Minneapolis. (It is only a 50-mile drive and takes less than an hour with normal traffic on a familiar and comfortable road… all through familiar stomping grounds from when I lived and worked in the city.)
Did I mention that my nice new 2014 Dodge Dart is equipped with a very up-to-date GPS and map system? Well, it is. And I like looking at the little arrow that shows me where I am among the jumble and veritable snake-pit of roads winding in every direction from me. But I can’t focus fast enough on what I’m looking for and still keep my car on the road.
Although the map does show clearly the name of each road and intersection as I approach, which IS very helpful, if only I knew the NAMES of the roads I take… but I don’t often know names of streets, just the familiar landmarks that I have come to recognize and associate with them…. Which also seem to get changed at an alarming rate nowadays with new building construction everywhere.
But I drive local roads, not freeways. Freeways terrify me because I have to read the signs while also watching out for other drivers, and I fear missing my turnoff and then never getting off the damn freeway… just driving until I land in Chicago or run out of gas.
And I have to take a freeway for a short distance to get to this friend’s house. So, I’m driving home after a very pleasant day of visiting with dear old friends. My mind is happily reviewing conversations and interesting tidbits … and I assume I know my correct exit… guess what? I neglect to check my handy GPS Map that tells me which exit is next… no, I cheerfully take a ramp that looks very like my regular one and end up on a totally other freeway.
I still knew where I was, of course… but could not think how to get from there to my own highway! Luckily it was not dark yet so I was not befuddled by the issue of lights at night in the city. So before too long I did find a familiar cross-road that I knew eventually opened onto the road I wanted… and, using my GPS map more wisely, actually landed exactly where I wanted to be. I felt so proud! Duh!
God! I do worry but yesterday I made a foray into the city to another friend’s very familiar address and it went without a hitch on a gloriously perfect midsummer day! I even managed to maneuver a very complicated DETOUR right in the busiest intersection of downtown Minneapolis! Yea me!
Happy Solstice! I will try to write more on that shortly, so stay tuned. ~K