I’ve been blessed with some wonderful gifts. A sense of direction is not one of them.
It takes me a full day in a new hotel to learn the floor plan so that I don’t end up in the wrong wing trying to figure out why I can’t find my room number.
Once when my kids were small, my then five-year-old (who has an excellent visual memory) showed us the way out of a crowded museum when we got turned around.
When she played travel sports, I soon realized that being a team parent required two things: learn names quickly so you can use them liberally while cheering for the team (another failing of mine) and get places quickly and directly. I was soon known as the parent who always asked if I could follow somebody so I wouldn’t get lost.
On one of those trips we made an emergency trip to a big box sporting goods store one night. When we came out of the store through a different entrance than we went in, we couldn’t figure out why our car wasn’t in the row where we parked it.
My other daughter went to Florida with a friend’s family when she was in high school. Back home she told us all about her adventures.
“You know, Mom,” she started, “they drove all the way down there without turning around once.”
I don’t believe I’ve ever taken a driving trip without turning around somewhere.
Another memorable time, my older daughter and I left the Tower of Pisa in plenty of time to catch the tour bus back to our cruise ship. Plenty of time, unless you turned the wrong way and wandered away down the street trying to figure out where you turned wrong. By the time we realized our mistake, asked a helpful souvenir salesman where to go and hightailed it down the trail, our friends were waving wildly and the tour guide was threatening to leave. Phew!
My husband seems to have a map of the world in his head. Most of the time he knows exactly which direction he is going and can remember how to get to places he hasn’t been in ten years. How he does this is a complete mystery to me.
I’m a big believer in Growth Mindset. (Google Carol Dweck if you’re wondering.) I don’t think anyone is at their limit. With hard work there is always room to grow. My problem with my problem, so to speak, is that I can’t even figure out what to work on first. So over the years I’ve depended heavily on maps, then on Mapquest, and now I have a Smartphone that completely enables me. As long as I can convince Siri that the address I want is really in the state that I’m telling her, she’ll give me step by step directions to get me where I want to go. Last weekend I went to Door County, Wisconsin and when someone asked me what part of the state I was in, I had to look at a map.
If only I could travel at dawn and dusk, I’d always know what direction I’m going.