I’m what you could call “directionally challenged.” You might think that this is my glib way of telling you that I am very short (which I am), but you would be wrong. Rather, I am divulging my complete and utter inability to find my way anywhere.
Given the choice between any two directions — north or south, east or west, forward or backward — I will inevitably pick the wrong one. This is true even if the choice is “up or down.”
To further complicate matters, I walk very quickly. So when on foot, I get lost twice as fast.
I even got lost in the ladies’ room once. I had to follow a woman out. (In my defense, it was a pretty large bathroom.)
Yes, my sense of direction is astoundingly bad, but my husband uses this trait to his advantage. If he’s not sure of which way to turn, he will ask my opinion and then promptly go in the opposite direction.
There are people in the world like me; I know that because I am related to them.
I sympathize with them, and I learn from them because they have developed creative mnemonic devices for remembering directions.
One such aide-mémoire I learned from my father when I was a young girl traveling home with my siblings from a family vacation. My brother, sister, and I were fighting over who would get to sleep on the floorboards while intermittently asking our parents when we would finally be home again, when my father informed us that it would not be long, as he was now exiting “east … towards the ocean.” We stopped poking each other and peered out the windows in quizzical silence, pondering the wisdom of those words. Then my brother replied, “Or you could go west … towards the other ocean.”
Odd as it may seem, I’ve been using “east towards the ocean and west towards the other ocean” as navigational cues ever since.
I used to figure that one of the bonuses of having children is that once they hit elementary school age, they could read a map for me. As it turned out, two of them can. I think a genetics study could be done here because the offspring who have dark hair like me are also as directionally inept as I am.
My daughter and I have bonded over our navigational ineptitude. Put the two of us in a car together and we could circle the Perimeter indefinitely.
We used to go on road trips together, in the days before Siri, and the biggest challenge we had was breaching the Atlanta city limits. Our trips would typically begin with one of us driving and the other frantically dialing my husband and hollering into the phone, “We have to take 285! Quick! East or West? East or West!”
My daughter (who is by now thoroughly embarrassed but who will hate me even more for telling you this) has what I think is a pretty clever orientation cue for our city. She uses the road signs as a guide to help her remember which way to turn onto 400 by pronouncing the abbreviations for north and south as “no” and “so.” We live in the OTP burbs, north of the ATL, so to head north on 400 is “No” Atlanta, whereas going South on 400 is traveling “So” Atlanta. Get it? I use it all the time.
Nowadays, of course, I can use the handy navigation system. The problem with that is that I don’t believe it; my uncanny sense of direction always tells me that it’s wrong.
As time passed, however, even my dark-haired offspring developed navigational abilities, and they have left me in isolated idiocy.
The only thing left for me to console myself with is that I can still find my way around the keyboard.