Vanessa and I are pretty close. We worked together, we go to book club together and we have several of the same friends. When we first met, I would visit her at her house in the next community. She shared her calamities with me and I commiserated in between giggles. Vanessa is a great cook and baker, but you don’t want to be with her when she boils Fussells thick cream. She boils the cream while it is still sealed in the can. Otherwise, Vanessa is a first pick for travel advice, to take on an adventure or to walk your Labrador with! But the biggest problem I have with Vanessa is that she moved to the other side of the City. We may not live in a Metropolis, but I need a map to get there.
I really dislike going to the east end of the City. It isn’t because it is unfriendly or dangerous, it is only because I don’t go there often and the labyrinth of streets and cul-de-sacs are difficult to navigate. Simply put, I have a habit of getting lost. I do not have my own internal compass. I routinely have been told by otherwise polite friends and colleagues, “No Mo, it’s your other left.” I am a hapless, map-less and dangerous traveller.
You would think that my objections to visiting people on the East Side would have all but stopped. My car is equipped with a GPS, my Samsung 4 has google maps and if all else fails I can make my way to our box store boulevard and ask for simple directions from there. With all the help available, I can still muck it up!
A year ago, my friend and fellow book club member, Vanessa, took her turn hosting our book club session. I never willingly miss book club, mainly because I enjoy reading, I like other people to figure out for me the best books to purchase, and the women in our club our unbelievably funny. As one of my friends would say, our book club nights are as good as a concert. My only regret is that Vanessa, the hostess with the flare to tantalize us with treats from her latest travel, lives on the East Side!
I am ashamed of my inability to drive to fixed destinations in a timely manner, so I was keeping it a secret. To complicate my life, I work late, so it impossible for me to car pool. This book club appointment required me to drive myself. I was confident that I could find the street buried somewhat inside of a new subdivision. I had my GPS. How hard could it be?
I knew the subdivision was four years old, because I remember buying our car about the same time as Vanessa and John built their house. The subdivision was just getting started then and even I could find it at that time. Since then, new streets and dead-end roads have been added. There are numerous ways to access the subdivision. They even have a Hotel there now. I can identify the hotel every time my husband drives us to Costco. It was a handy landmark for a trip to Vanessa’s.
I left work with about 30 minutes to spare. I programmed Vanessa’s address into my Toyota’s GPS. It occurred to me that a GPS must either come programmed with the maps in place at the time the car was manufactured or they regularly updated them from a satellite connection. The latter didn’t sound improbable but I wondered why I never noticed any messages on the console to that effect. I pulled out of the parking lot at the Southside of the city and headed North East.
This self-confessed travelling basket case did know enough to recognize that the GPS was guiding me past all the most likely turn offs. I trusted that soft spoken lady to know what she was doing. I began to notice I was driving at least ten minutes longer than I should have been and the console map did not have any sign of the expected right hand turn or any familiar destination. I presumed the GPS knew best. The subdivision was still growing and there was a big protest at City Council about vehicle congestion problems should Council approve a condo project there. Perhaps the residents built one of brick walls to contain their neighbour and make Council and developers go away? I had no idea where that subdivision had gone.
Sweat began to break out across my forehead as I followed the instruction to proceed down the highway along the City’s water supply. It was a very long road and for the life of me I couldn’t recall any right hand turns in that part of town. Eventually the street lights disappeared and I knew I was lost. Panic began to set in. My hands were clammy and my mind was slipping toward catastrophe. My temperature was rising and I was edgy. Suddenly I noticed a right hand turn.
I didn’t care if the right hand turn was correct or not, I had to take a turn that seemed to head south. The unfamiliar road began to look familiar, the way a trip to a new community in the country always looks a bit familiar. The darn road was twisting and I had no idea if I was headed South or North. I no longer felt embarrassed about being late, roughly 30 minutes at that point. I was just plain scared. The road finally intersected with a ramp that lead to a highway.
I was in the Twilight Zone. Where in the world did this highway come from? The encouraging part was that it was definitely pointing to the City. The road sign said as much. I drove for what seemed to be an eternity. I approached a new box store that I read about in the paper. I was near the box store boulevard. I wanted to pull off the road and do a happy dance, but I was too late and I was too nervous to do so. I soon made it to the intersection with Costco! I was back to concrete civilization.
I headed a little east and saw a second clue. The sign for the golf course was a sure giveaway. It was vital that I call for those directions, which even a child could follow. I stopped the car, retrieved my purse with my phone from the back seat. I called Vanessa.
Mo: “Vanessa, I’m lost.”
Vanessa: “Where are you?”
Mo: “ Next to the turn off for the Golf Course!”
Vanessa: “Well you are here then.”
Mo: “No! I may as well be in Albuquerque. I need you to lead me to your house.”
Well, Vanessa had a lot of patience with me as I located the hotel and drove down two winding roads until I saw her driveway. A real person with a kind voice and a bright light above her door will beat a GPS or a map any day!
I doubt I could drive to Vanessa’s without getting lost today. I believe in mental blocks and disorientation. I also believe my husband should always be the driver. But, sometimes you just have to take the steering wheel by its proverbial horns and drive until you get there.