So most of you know that I have no sense of direction. As in, it is absent from my being. It’s not a matter of paying attention; it’s not a matter of practice; it’s not a matter of doing fewer tequila shots at the bar. Well, sometimes it is.
But still. It’s just not a part of me. Even when I try valiantly to pay attention to where I have been, in order to gain a better understanding of where I need to go, it doesn’t work. After two or more turns, everything I’ve retained just — * poof * — gone. Wiped clean like “Memento” guy’s short-term memory.
People don’t understand this, or believe this. Either they think I’m too smart in general, or that NO ONE could be that stupid. Maybe both. But often times, the people who are affected by my directional challenge seem almost offended, like I’m trying to pull one over on them or something. And I understand this. I can remember the title of every “Buffy” episode and what Shannon wore to our 9th grade science fair, but I still get lost on the way to work sometimes.
No, I am not kidding.
Why my brain is this way, I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that I can get lost anywhere. And it’s tough, because there really isn’t great cultural awareness about a problem like mine. Maybe what I need to do is make an Afterschool Special about it so people will know. Actually, maybe I should do that anyway, because that would be awesome. PRODUCERS! Call me! Although there aren’t afterschool specials any more, which is so sad. Granted, there are Lifetime Movies, which, let us all bow our heads to the brilliance for a moment, but there’s a lot of sifting through earnest original television series and Susan Lucci movies to get to the good stuff about eating disorders and that actress who looks like if you crossed Natalie Portman with the chick who plays Taylor Townsend on “The O.C.” But more on that another time.
Anyway. So yeah, I’ve gotten lost a lot. I’ve thought I was in Malverne when I was in Cold Spring Harbor. I’ve been late to ShopRite because seriously, the entrance to the 135 from Jerusalem Avenue vanished. I had a serious relationship with a guy who lived in my town of 15 years and still couldn’t find my way to Sunrise Highway…which was around the block from him…sometimes. Okay, most times. But none of these instances prepared me for last night.
Okay, so as those of you who love me enough to read my bulletins know, I got an iPod, thanks to Greg. And I have no idea what I’m doing, but I did manage to get “Appetite for Destruction” and other assorted good songs for jogging in (on?) it. One of the main reasons I wanted an iPod was so that I’d start jogging again. I was REALLY not in the mood last night, but I forced myself, saying I could walk or jog, whatever, but I had to be out for 10 songs.
And what better way to make sure I did not come home early, but to use my God-given skills at getting hopelessly lost! Excellent. I set out on my journey, and quickly got into the experience. Sure, I had no idea what to do with the newfangled “iPod” contraption, but I did figure out that the right arrow button meant “skip.” The air was nice and chilly but not too cold, the streets were dark, and I had music. It was great.
But I still wanted to challenge myself, so anywhere I could make a turn, I did. I live in North-ish Merrick, where the streets are twisty and seriously, like I guess there is some town ordinance that states every street must have multiple counterparts, because there are like 12 Park Avenues, but that is not good enough, because there also has to be Park Place and Park Street and Park Boulevard, and unlike my other hood, Baldwin Harbor, there is no rhyme or reason to the street names, I mean at least in Baldwin there is the presidents section to save you before you get lost forever in the Harbor-Harbor down by the park and the Christmas house that’s like the 9 ¾ track from Harry Potter, in that it absolutely cannot be found by mere mortals.
What was my point? Oh yeah, just that Merrick doesn’t roll like that, because there will be the 75 different Parks, but then all of a sudden? Horatio Place. And so on and so forth. All of which is to say that I was getting good and lost. I’ve been half an hour late to work by car for way less than the way I was walking around last night.
About eight songs and forty minutes later of throwing caution to the wind and wandering the dark, twisty streets, knowing I was probably going to end up in East Meadow or something, I saw a light ahead. Oh, I wonder what street I’m coming up to, I thought. One thing was for sure – it was going to take me awhile to get home. I forged ahead, really digging this Modest Mouse song that I’d never heard before.
I got to the new block, and could not believe my eyes.
I was a block away from my house.
The street was Camp Avenue, which is right next to Park Avenue, my street.
I was literally stopped in my tracks, jaw agape. I could not believe this had happened. Like, is this the trick??? To TRY valiantly to get lost, and I’ll end up exactly where I need to be???
As I stood there, I really was having a slightly out-of-body experience. Often in my life, the line between the natural and the supernatural, and between the waking and dreaming, has been severely blurred. This was feeling like one of those times. I mean, I know I have no sense of direction, but this felt…bigger. And creepy.
But not as creepy as what came next.
As I stood there feeling like the butt of some cosmic joke, wanting to laugh, but feeling completely unnerved, the Modest Mouse song started wrapping up, and this is what I heard:
The universe is shaped exactly like the Earth
If you go straight long enough you’ll end up where you were
So now that I’ve reenacted “The Blair Witch Project” complete with ironic score and “Wizard of Oz” undertones, I can’t wait to see what happens on my next walkabout. But if you don’t hear from me for 24 hours, call the police and tell them I’m missing, and that they should look for me either really far away, or like, right next to my house.
© March 7, 2006
*If you get this reference, I’ll totally buy you a drink next time I see you.