I get excited about continuing education. I love learning new things. Plus, I’m always reading – everything from fiction and non-fiction to the back of cereal boxes. Remember those annoying kids who ask twenty times in a row, “WHY?” Lately as I’ve been driving around my new town, I’m asking myself Why a lot more than ever before. And I’m starting to annoy myself.
I expected relocating to a different area of the country would present new challenges. Before the move, I worried about differences in temperature (higher heat and humidity), differences in accents (drawls) and differences in lifestyle (laid back). What I was not prepared to discover was my acquisition of ALOD or Adult-onset Lack Of Direction. Why did this happen?
It appears I am experiencing significant problems with losing sight of North. I grew up in a grid-based city where streets were north or south, east or west. Occasionally, there was a street that flowed on an angle in the pattern, but each ultimately ended in downtown so it made sense. The grid made travel a snap. I always knew where I was going. Why didn’t I ever think other cities might be different?
In my new location, I have landed in a city built with a weird and confusing conglomeration of streets. The downtown area is actually a rectangle that’s completely off-center – with the top tilted toward the Northwest. The streets and expressways blossom outwards in random directions. And some streets even change names every few blocks – while still in the same city. I know there are cities some consider worse. Washington, D.C., for example, seems to have a grid pattern overlaid with a diamond pattern. I’ll never understand the founding fathers’ navigational rationale. Why does this happen?
Because of my ALOD, I now rely on my GPS like a crack addict his pipe. An accurate, if not pretty, metaphor. It’s as if I failed some fictional street map class and feel really, really guilty about it. I don’t know what I’d do without that tiny little compass in the bottom left of my screen to track where I am. The downside to heavy GPS use is I’ll enter the address and merely follow the navigational directions without paying attention to the route. (This is mostly due to the fact I’m still trying to find a new favorite radio station that doesn’t have a wacked-out morning show host who’s obsessed with sounding like a demented cartoon character. But that’s another post.) I’m excelling at autopilot when I should be paying attention. Why is this important at all?
There’s no great surprise that life will always have lessons to be learned. Mine, these days, seems to be the opportunity to learn a roadmap and find the right course in a new city. It may take a couple wrong turns and extra mileage on the odometer, but the journey will be interesting. I’m certain I’ll find my North again.