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Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Wrong Turn

There may be a GPS in my future. I have been fighting getting one. But today made me think strongly it is time. With Amazon Prime it will be here in two days. Once again, I got lost on my way to someplace really great. I did MapQuest the directions. I don't know if it is just my experience, or a flaw in MapQuest. There is always one missing street, the essential street that gets me on the final leg of the journey. The street that is on my printed instructions, is nowhere to be found on a sign on the road.

And when that happens, I panic. All common sense is gone. My vision blurs. I get a headache. I know I will never get to my destination. But some little voice says maybe. So I drive in any direction my lack of direction takes me. If I am in town it is unpleasant, but eventually I will find my way. Driving in the country (rural farm land) is a totally different experience. If I get lost, even AAA won't find me.

Perhaps my first error today had to do with the fact I avoid getting on major expressways if there is another kinder, gentler way to go. I might have found the coffee house on the east side of Athens had I taken a more direct route, using a highway.  Instead I took the road less traveled. Winding country roads where for miles I only saw farmhouses tucked far back from the road, surrounded by acres of land, and white fences. Or expanses of nothing except pastures. I passed towns I had wanted to visit when I still lived in metro Atlanta and dreamed of moving to a rural area. Good Hope, Bishop, North High Shoals, but not necessarily in that order (after all, I had no idea where I was). I landed in Watkinsville just as my instructions told me. If I could have patted myself on the back, I would have. But one hand was on the steering wheel, the other holding the printed words, my lifeline to the writing group. Almost there with thirty minutes to spare I felt secure I had made the right decision with the route I chose.

I drove past the delightful main street reminding myself I should come back when I could stay. Before I realized I was through town and heading on an expressway to Athens, yes, but not the side of Athens where I needed to be, and certainly not any place on my sheet of streets to follow.  So, I decided to turn around and go back to Watkinsville. How hard could it be to find the street, just before the church, to point me in the right direction? Not hard. Impossible. The street on the paper did not have a sign on the road.  I did what any idiot in a panic would do. I turned onto a street by a church thinking it might work. After all, a church was on my directions from MapQuest. Ten miles later on another country road I saw a sign for the Athens airport. This could not be right, I told myself, and turned around, backtracking back to Watkinsville. In my case today, I could honestly say all roads lead to Watkinsville.

I did what every man I ever knew when I was younger did. Refused to stop for directions. I saw several places I could have, should have, but did not pull in to ask for help. Back before there was the GPS and in the dark ages when there were paper maps, my husband would get lost and ask me to check the map. I was the designated navigator (by him, not by choice). "I don't read maps," I had to remind him. "Why don't you stop at that gas station and ask directions?" We were at an impasse. I would not read the map, he would not stop for help. Once the conversation got so heated, I jumped out of the car, and he drove off, leaving me stranded on the road. No cell phone, and at the time, I was an inside the perimeter gal. None of my friends would have come outside I-285 (the beltway around Atlanta) to pick me up. He came back within minutes. My hot temper cooled. We had a laugh and somehow got to our destination. I did learn never to jump out of a moving car again, unless I knew where I landed.

My answer to today's situation was simple. I grabbed my cell, pulled up the meet-up group web page, and left an apology in the comment section of the days event I would not be there. I was lost. Then I circled around Watkinsville one last time, heading in the direction I knew would get me home.

I did make a stop at a charming antique/junk shop that sprawled along the country road, a sign "painted furniture" drew me in. My head ached from the stress of driving and worry I might never be found if I got too deeply embedded on one of those long winding roads with nary a sign of humanity.

As soon as I walked in the door all tension left my body. So much stuff to look at. I spent the next hour talking to the owner, shifting through piles of books, china, quilts, and artwork.

Shopping. Antiques. The cure for what ails me. An unexpected adventure, just the kind I can handle. I left with two books, and original drawing of a lady sitting at a café in Paris (not that you can tell, she is a large scribble, but so whimsical I had to have her) and a set of hobnail glasses. I made a new friend with the owner. She will see me again of that I am certain. After all, the writing group meets again next month, and I will pass by on my way to Athens, my new GPS leading me in the right direction.

Or Not.

If I procrastinate like I usually do, I won't have a GPS. But you can bet, I will find my way next time.


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