Show Me The Way To Go Home

Now that I’m spending more time in Winnipeg, I’ve been struggling once again with an inability to find the way to and from…anywhere.  It’s like someone has taken a sponge and wiped out parts of my brain.  A number of years ago, I couldn’t find the Sport-ex in the town of Creighton.  I had to go home and admit to my husband that, no, I would not be picking up our daughter from skating.  He thought I’d had a stroke.

I would have loved to have had a good excuse for embarrassing myself that way.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me, that I have such a hard time getting from one place to another.  I also struggle with guessing distances and height, so maybe its a spatial thing.  Whatever the cause, I’ve discovered a few helpful tips.  I try to look around more  when someone else is driving.  And I use map quest a lot while I’m in the city.  Our next vehicle will have a GPS, but for now, map quest does the trick.  Except.

The other day I carefully and successfully navigated my way down Pembina to a second hand book store.  Something that I hadn’t  counted on, though, was finding my way home.  Because (and perhaps you already know this, dear reader) the street names change.  For example, Osborne, depending on where you are, is also called Isabel, Colony, Memorial, Dunkirk and Dakota.  For someone who gets lost a lot, this is a nightmare.  I didn’t know about this little complication or I would have map quested my way home.  Since I didn’t, I ended up someplace downtown during rush hour, where the traffic was basically stopped.  That didn’t prevent me from lurching into another lane. I would have been proud of my move if I hadn’t scared the crap out of a pedestrian.  I was at least eight feet away from him, but he obviously felt threatened.  He shook his fist and yelled so loudly that I banged an elbow in my haste to roll up the window and lock all the doors.

Stalled traffic also presents an opportunity for homeless people to make a little extra cash.  They hold up signs saying things like ‘have no work or food.’  The jury is still out on how to handle this one, but I have a hard time saying no.  So in between trying to get in the right lane, avoid hitting pedestrians and still the panic building inside my chest, I had to roll down the window and hand out loonies.  I had quite a few, since I’d been planning on washing the car.  For some reason, I didn’t feel I could stop until the coins were all gone. 

Once the traffic started moving again, things didn’t get much better.  I kept circling the same block over and over again, until finally I cut through a parking lot and temporarily derailed my driving purgatory.  It started up again, though, when I found myself shooting down Main Street in the wrong direction.  How I finally found my way back to Osborne Village, I’ll never know.  The good news is, I haven’t been lost since.  Scaring the crap out of myself had some valuable side benefits.  Now I always make sure that I know how to get there AND back again. 

A positive side to all the driving mayhem was my realization that every journey, whether physical, spiritual or metaphorical, needs a destination.  Never mind the saying about the journey being the thing.  Yes, we’re supposed to enjoy the ride.  Take in the scenery.  Pull over every once in a while to eat some lunch, or pee in the bush.  But overall, we want to be headed somewhere.  Maybe the most important thing to ask ourselves is this.  Where do we want to go?  Which is another way of saying, what do we want to be when we grow up?  Some of us are still trying to figure it out.  The next time I’m lost, I’ll remember to ask myself the big questions.  Where am I going?  And how do I get there?  Hopefully, I’ll arrive at an answer.

Published by Judith Pettersen

Judith Pettersen is an author living in Canada. She blogs about her life in the north and the ups and downs of being a writer.

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