Sunday, June 26, 2011

Finding the way even when you think you're lost.....

I never did find my atlas. The one I spent hours with before I left for my trip to Baltimore, where I was headed to attend a writer's conference at the University of Baltimore. Even though I have a GPS for my car, the visual part of my brain needs to see the whole route in order to.....well, I'm not sure why, but I just need it, OK? It somehow comforts me to know exactly WHERE I am in South Carolina as I cruise along the 700 + mile route between my hometown and Maryland. Yes, you can tell me that it would be nearly impossible to get lost, since the entire route is on ONE road, but I also used to work for the Boy Scouts and you know what their motto is, right?

So, for about two days prior to packing up my things, picking up another writer friend who I cajoled into coming with me, and then hitting I-95, I studied and calculated and imprinted the image of the entire route into my memory banks. I think I've got it, I assured myself, the self who plans everything, including inserting time for getting lost or stopped by endless trains into every trip, even if that trip is only from my house to the dentist's office five minutes away. Might explain why I'm early for everything and annoy everyone by showing up before they're ready for me.

That morning, I threw my things in the car, including the atlas which was on the floor behind my seat, I know it was, I can see it lying there, and we were off. The humidity was around 99% and the pine forests flew by as we left Florida and cruised through Georgia. Before we knew it, we were in South Carolina, which is hard to miss with its omnipresent palm tree and moon logo on every car and sign from one end of the state to the other. They must give babies a copy of it as soon as they're born and make them sign their life over to the damn thing.

We looked for lunch, which is when I reached back to find the atlas, just to verify that we were in fact in South Carolina and I hadn't been captured by aliens and transported off to who knows where without me knowing it. OK...I don't know WHY I have to look at a map to verify what I can see right in front of me. Some people have facial tics. I have a tic that demands that I always know what is happening or what is going to happen.

And the atlas wasn't there. It wasn't behind the other seat, either. Or in the back where all the luggage was, the six bags two women brought for a one and a half day conference, nor was it under the seats I had flipped down to make way for all those bags. It had disappeared. Oh, my.....what was I going to do?

Over the course of the next few days, I kept looking, though. It had to be there, it just had to, I mumbled to myself, I know I put it in the car, I could picture myself doing it the day I finished with it in the house, I walked out and threw it in behind that seat. I simply had to see the route occasionally to reassure myself that.......well, I've already told you I don't know why.

But, somehow, we made it all the way to Baltimore and back. The Aussie voice I downloaded into my GPS helped when we needed to find another Subway (they truly are everywhere), and then we let him go back to his nap after we had eaten. Little by little I forgot about the atlas.

Someone who knew me well made the comment one day that I always had to know everything. I'm sure he made the remark without an agenda, it was just a comment. But I thought about it a lot and he was right. It manifests itself in some really strange, irritating ways, both to others and to me. So, I've made a real effort to eradicate that tic from my personality, all the way from intentionally not planning every minute of my weekends to trusting other people a bit more. Because maybe, just maybe, they will lead me just fine and not let anything bad happen along the way.

I forgot to look for the atlas for about 3 days once we got home.

And, no, I haven't found it yet. Oh, well.......who needs it anyway?

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