Where Was the What Now?

Today was one of those hot/rainy/confusing summer days where I stayed indoors the whole day, like a reticent turtle, reading in my underwear. And then I decided to head out running, since, in a moment of optimism a few week back, I had signed myself up to do a half-marathon in September, and should probably get a bit of practice in.

Now, where I live is right on the edge of a big forest area, so there are running tracks aplenty. There are two main tracks I follow, with slight variations, and today I took a new variation on one of them. Imagine my surprise when this new section of track A suddenly hooks up with the back part of track B. I was amazed.


Now this would possibly not amaze a normal person, but I have without a doubt the world’s most dire sense of direction. Just ask anyone. I am the kind of person who must force myself to remember, upon entering a building, if I should turn left or right upon leaving. When asked for directions, I regularly send cars off on circuitous and scenic rounds of Stockholm and, even armed with a map and a compass, I have gotten hopelessly lost just 10 minutes from where I live.

My 8-year old now realises this, and will not trust my directions any more. At the slightest sign of me getting lost, he will pull my sleeve and say “Dad, will you just ask someone?”

This disability, however, makes life quite interesting. The city to me is a hundred isolated pockets of places I recognise, separated by a shimmering grey mist of confusion. And when I suddenly stumble into one area I know via another area, I am always amazed, even if they are only a few minutes apart.

There is one plus side: big cities are never boring with this kind of disability, as I keep on discovering new areas, although most of them are areas I used to know but have forgotten how to get to. Just never follow me anywhere, no matter how confident I appear to be. And I mean never.

/ paddy

8 thoughts on “Where Was the What Now?

  1. No way, man. *I* have the most dire sense of direction. Just this week I discovered I live about five minutes from a huge hospital, which I’ve always thought was 15-20 minutes away… and it always WAS, the way I was driving to it.

    New York is always an adventure because Macy’s and Bloomingdales take up whole blocks so even if I DO remember which way to turn upon leaving the building I forget which entrance I came in and wind up walking the wrong way across the island.

  2. Very funny Paddy. So true and brutally honest. You really never have a clue where you’re going do you?!
    I think I remember you getting lost bringing a few of us to your home in Kerry years ago…
    One of the few, maybe only thing, I have over you!

  3. lexfoster: New York is easy – all those parallel lines and regular blocks! But my advice – buy a little compass for your keyring, and trust in the kindness of strangers.

    Stu: I believe you remember correctly – I indeed got lost driving to my home of 20 years. I imagine that’s why I never got the air traffic control job – think what a mess that would have been…

  4. […] There are also people who seem to know their way around without using a map, a compass and a GPS receiver, and who can uncannily find their way back to a place having been there only once. These people scare me as I myself have a severe locational handicap. […]

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