Hi, my name is Dave and I am directionally challenged. I get lost… a lot.
I mean A LOT!
Know Thyself. Philosophers, since the time of the ancient Greeks, have told us that. One of the things I’ve come to know about myself is that I have the worst sense of direction of any sentient being on the planet. I know my right from my left….usually. OK; it helps if I wear a watch. After many years of working in community theater I know the difference between upstage/downstage and stage-left/stage-right. The concepts of North, South, East, and West, however, are all but meaningless to me. I understand them in the abstract. I know the top of the map is North. Trying to get from one place to another efficiently is another matter.
I know if I am driving South that turning right means I will be going West. But if I am not heading South turning right means I’ll be going some completely different direction. Given that the chances of me actually knowing which direction I am driving to begin with are poor, this left turn/right turn logic doesn’t really help. The dealership where I take my car for service moved to a nice new facility last year. It is very close to the old location; on the same street. I can actually see the old location from the new location. But they moved to the other side of the street. I have never driven out of the parking lot from the new location without turning the wrong direction. We’ve lived in Phoenix for 7 yrs and I still cannot figure out why the “South” curb at the airport always seems. to me. to be on the North side of the terminal.
I have a theory about the source of this difficulty. I blame the Interstate Highway System. [Tangential note: Did you know the official name of the Interstate System is the; Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways?] I grew up, and learned to drive, in Southeastern Wisconsin. The primary highway through that area is I-94. We are told that the even-numbered Interstate Highways run East/West. Where I grew up, however, I-94 runs North/South; from Milwaukee to Chicago. Yes, I know that if one stays on it long enough one will find oneself in Detroit or Billings, MT but as a 16 year-old with a learner’s permit I learned that if I wanted to go North to Milwaukee I got on I-94 WEST and if I wanted to go South to Chicago I got on I-94 EAST. I decided the entire syllogism was flawed and developed my own system. When I wanted to go to Chicago I would drive away from Lake Michigan and turn left at the Mars Cheese Castle.
This limitation doesn’t really bother me. I’ve learned to allow for extra time when going to unfamiliar places. There can be a serendipitous joy in discovering the beauty of the road less-traveled. More often I learn why it is the road less-traveled and promise myself to never travel it again. I’ve also pursued two very effective strategies to address this weakness. I got an iPhone and I married well. Harper’s Other Dad is very good with directions. When we travel by car I usually drive and he navigates. When he tells me to turn I usually think he’s wrong but he never is. We just think differently. Were someone to ask us how to get to the nearest pharmacy he would tell them it is on the Northwest corner of X & Y. I would tell them it is behind Wells Fargo next to the Dry Cleaners.
The reason this topic entered the stream-of-consciousness is because, yesterday, I spent my first afternoon as a photo volunteer for Find-A-Grave (F.A.G.; hmm). Can you imagine how I much I loved getting his map from the cemetery office?
Afterward I went to Wholefoods; the one next to Petsmart….not the one across from Best Buy.