I am really good at getting lost. As I’ve mentioned, I’m also not a very good driver, so maybe don’t get in the car with me. Ever.
Young and Lost
When I was a wee thing, younger than five, my parents sat on the sands of Galveston, Texas, and watched me frolic in the surf and dig holes in the sand with my chubby hands. They saw me collect shells that only a child of that young age would find remarkable. Then, they watched me walk off down the beach in the wrong direction, away from them. They waited for me to realize my mistake, but when mom began to lose sight of me, she hustled down the hot sand to retrieve me. I had no idea. Ah well, she’s young, they thought.
When I was thirteen, my friend, Cindy, and I liked to be dropped off all the mall where we would revel in our independence and spend all our babysitting money on nail polish and cheap earrings at Claire’s. One of the first times I was allowed this freedom, I got lost. We’d agreed Mom would retrieve us from the very same Sanger-Harris entrance where she’d dropped us off. We waited, and Mom didn’t show. Mom waited, and we didn’t show. After a lot of driving/walking around and missing each other in that pre-cell-phone era, we realized we’d been waiting at the wrong entrance. At thirteen, Mom decided a little advice was warranted:
“April, when you walk in the mall, look at where you are. Are you by women’s shoes? Luggage? Furniture? What floor are you on?”
Most people don’t need to be told this, but I did, and I still forget to pay attention to it sometimes.
Drunk and Lost
In my late 20’s, I attended a gathering at a close family friend’s new condo in East Austin, about the time the gentrification in that area was really picking up momentum. We were scarcely out of earshot of I35, but I still turned the wrong way out of the complex and ended up driving around two-lane roads bordered only by tall grass and trees in the dark for the next two hours. I had a cell phone by then. I called my then-husband, Javier.
“Where are you?!”
“That’s the problem, dummy. I DON’T KNOW!”
I don’t know what I expected him to do. You couldn’t track phones back then, and he, stupidly, did not have the magical ability to divine where I was. I gave up, hung up, then I put my little red Dodge Stratus in a ditch. I rolled right off the gravel side of the road into a small depression in the earth that was not exactly a gully but trapped my car nonetheless. We may have been a little drunk.
Miraculously, after driving around for over an hour on unlabeled roads without seeing another vehicle, a car came by, and the group of guys inside helped us push the car back onto the road. About fifteen minutes and several more random-guess turns later, I saw a road sign:
“Ed Bluestein!” I yelled.
One of the special and maddening things about Austin is how half the streets have more than one name. Start driving down Bullick Hollow at one end, for example, and it’ll turn into RM 2222, Northland Drive, Alandale, then Koenig before it sputters out at I35. Ed Bluestein happens to be what Highway 183 is called at one of its more easterly sections. 183 would take us home.
Married and Lost
Once, when Jason and I first started dating, his cousin was giving me directions over the phone. Mike said, “April, you’re going to have to be the direction person in that relationship because Jason has no sense of it.”
Jason and I have spent a lot of time driving around, missing exits and asking each other, “Where are we? I thought the restaurant was right here.”
Engaged and shopping for wedding bands, we drove all over the city looking for a Jared’s we swore we’d seen on Brodie. Or was it on William Cannon? Maybe the other side of 71? We finally gave up and went home only to find the Jared’s within spitting distance of our apartment.
Soccer Mom Lost
The advent of Google Maps on our phones changed our lives. We reduced our driving-around-in-circles-lost minutes by 60 percent. I still sometimes manage to get myself and my family spectacularly misplaced. A couple of weekends ago, I was responsible for all the driving for the soccer tournament because Jason was sick.
I carefully mapped out each location, saved them in Maps, checked traffic well in advance and left extra time for parking and finding, say, field 17 out of 35 when nothing is labeled. (Seriously, have you ever tried to find one field in a park/event center/soccer complex? It’s a Where’s Waldo? sea of numbers, nets, cleats and umbrella chairs.)
Saturday afternoon, Jack and I departed Gage’s game early to get to his, leaving my mom to ferry Gage home. My phone battery was dying, so I asked Jack to navigate us, ensuring he typed the address correctly. We’d been at the same exact location earlier that day for his morning game.
We took a lot of weird turns and ended up at the address on Pecan Street, where we intended, but somehow, it was a gas station now. There were TWO addresses that were THE EXACT SAME on that street. It makes a big difference if you leave the “East” off “Pecan Street” apparently. When I squealed up on two tires, delivering Jack to his game minutes before the start time, I was full of apologies, explaining we got lost then ran into horrible traffic. A friend teased,
“You know they didn’t move it after this morning, right?”
There you have it. I can get lost at age three on the beach within sight of my parents, and I can get disoriented in a brightly lit, well-labeled mall. I can misremember what is outside the home I’ve lived in for two years, and I can take a wrong turn while driving to a place I’d been THREE HOURS AGO. With GPS! It’s one of my many talents, so friends, if you ever find yourself just a little too well located, a little too sure of where you are in the world, hop in the car with me. Let’s go on an adventure.