My sense of direction is not good. Apparently I inherited this from my grandmother who was known to drive up to 45 minutes in the wrong direction before noticing she was in the wrong place. I’ve always envied the people who can drive to a new place and then just know how to get there, but that’s never been me. I need a lot of time in an area before I get the layout in my head. Usually this happens gradually; I slowly look at the directions I’ve printed out less and less and finally one day leave without checking Google maps first. But once it was different.
Several years ago I was travelling to downtown San Jose on a regular basis. The half-marathon I had run for the past three years started there, several theatre companies whose shows I saw regularly performed there, and that’s where my tattoo artist was based. But every time I went to San Jose I had to print out directions to the specific place I was going. I was starting to recognize the routes I took regularly, but only if I stayed on the path.
Then my tattoo artist, Ron, changed locations. The group of people who had founded the tattoo shop got into a fight about the general direction of their work, so they split. (I do kind of adore that they take what they do so seriously.) One group stayed at the shop I knew and could find, but Ron was part of the group that was looking for new space. The schism group didn’t want to go far; after all they had clients booked out for months. So they found a space about six blocks from the original location and set up shop. I got a call telling me that my final appointment would be in this new space.
I dutifully printed out directions and found the new shop. On my way there I passed by one of the theatres I regularly attended. And when I looked at the directions home (I tend to print out both there and back when I’m going to a downtown area, one way streets are a bitch) I realized that I would pass another theatre and the old tattoo shop on my way out of town. Suddenly, blindingly, I got downtown San Jose.
The places I had been visiting regularly all inter-related. I knew that I could walk from point A to B with confidence, the street numbering and layout made sense, even the park in the middle of downtown that meant several streets don’t go where you think they do could no longer defeat me. In an instant I slayed the dragon of downtown San Jose and filled in the blank spaces on my mental map. It was amazing.
I’ve never had a realization of anything just snap into my brain like that before, or since. But that day, standing on a sidewalk outside a café, I just knew. For a brief moment, I was a woman with direction.
@@@This is my entry for week 1 of LJ Idol – we had two topics to pick from and I chose “here there be dragons”. I'll post a link to the poll once it is up, thank you for reading.@@@