Aug 202012

compass    I love the Hoosier state. I’ve lived in Indiana all but five-and-a-half years of my life, and there’s so much beauty to see all over the state. From the round bales of hay and symmetrical field rows of corn to our hilly and scenic state parks, the view from my windshield is appreciated.

It is, however, often difficult for me to find that beauty, because I am directionally challenged.

Apparently like seeks like, because I married a man who makes me look like Ferdinand Magellan.

If there was a reality show, “Survivor for the Perpetually Lost,” we would be superstars. We try to explain our plight, but no one ever really believes us. No one really believes that we cannot go from Point A to Point B without getting lost. And these same folks always have handy suggestions, like “use a map or GPS.”

What they don’t get is that there’s usually a whole lot happening between Point A and Point B that a map or GPS or the friendly man at the Motomart fails to mention.

The problem is that people make assumptions that you know something they know. For example, we were driving recently from my dad’s house in West Lafayette to a hotel. My brother gave us directions. It’s only two turns, a left and another left.

That’s all well and good, except that it was dark as pitch and he failed to mention the “roundabout” in the middle of the road that we nearly slammed into headfirst. Surprise — here’s a huge concrete circle forcing you to immediately change direction!

My brother’s directions to his first home were also legendary. Don’t go past the railroad tracks or the church.

He assumed we would be going on the right road in the right direction, and used this reverse approach to get us there.

When I was younger and got lost, my thinking was that I’ll just figure it out and I almost always did.

My secret was the same as I use when visiting any hospital: look exactly like you know where you are going and no one will mess with you.

That whole random guessing thing isn’t working for me anymore. On a vacation, we missed the cutoff to my aunt’s suburban home and went right into the middle of Boston during the biggest highway project in the history of the world. Boston traffic is not for sissies and it particularly not for sissies in a rented van. Our brief little three-hour tour around the city of Boston was, well, horrifying.

My golden moment, however, came just a few weeks ago when I managed to get lost on the way back to my dad’s home from my mom’s funeral. I was driving, although both my husband and I were worn out. Granted, I haven’t lived in the area where the funeral was for more than 30 years.

Somehow we made it almost to Marion before we figured out we were going in completely the wrong direction.

My brother stayed with me on the phone until I got back to Wabash, when he insisted on driving us back to Dad’s (and then gave us the directions without the roundabout.) I do try to look on the bright side of being perpetually lost — you get to see a lot of our state.

Published March 2012 in Amy Abbott’s The Raven Lunatic newspaper column, which runs in ten Indiana newspapers.

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