This story hit the news yesterday. Apparently Terry Francona, the new manager of the Cleveland Indians, got lost on his way to work opening day. I’m sure this was fodder for amusement by many people. Not me. I feel for Mr Francona, for I too am one of the directionless. The story of his getting lost on the 2-block trip from home to the ball field didn’t seem unusual in the least to me.
There’s the favorite family story of how, one September morning, I managed to get lost walking home from school. The punch line of the story is that my younger brother made it home fine. To be fair, it was the first day of school, and we were new to the town, and the school was a square building where the back and front entrances looked identical. Still, the fact is that I got lost because I went out a different door.
Even though I’ve lived in my current city for years, I still get lost on a frequent basis. It doesn’t take much; trying to get to a familiar place but starting from a different side of town can do it, and sometimes even familiar routes will suddenly look strange. Changes in landmarks really throw me; new construction can get me completely discombobulated.
Luckily, this trait wasn’t passed down to my daughter; from an early age she became my navigator, with her “Mom, why are you going that way?” the signal that something was wrong. She lives in NYC now, and I marvel at her ability to know how to get anywhere and what subway route to take.
Rick had a great sense of direction, and that’s just one more thing I miss. It seems trivial, and it is, but we complimented each other’s skills so well. On all our trips I could rest easy knowing that he knew the way to wherever we were going, and then back to the hotel. That probably doesn’t sound like much to most people, but to the directionless like Mr. Francona and I, it’s a big thing. Me, it’s a different story. There was that one time in New Orleans when I spent the morning walking on my own and got completely lost. I had to call Rick, twice, to figure out how to get back to our hotel.
I wonder if the first humans who crossed the Bering Strait land bridge and settled in the New World did so because they were led by someone as directionless as I am. The way I envision it, they wandered over and then couldn’t figure out how to get back. In fact, I have a theory that a lot of the expansion of humans out from the original cradle in Africa was due to people just like me, the ones who wandered for a few days and then couldn’t find their way home.
So, maybe, instead of being humiliated when I can’t find my way to a place that’s 5 miles from my house, I should view it as the same spirit that caused humans to spread throughout the world.