We’ve all been there.
That moment during the vacation when maybe someone reads a map wrong, or maybe someone doesn’t hear the information the way they expected to hear it. Suddenly a wrong turning is taken, maybe in heavy traffic, or an exit is missed, you’re getting lost in swarms of vehicles in an unfamiliar area and one grown-up snarls, “Can’t you read a map?” or one snaps, “Didn’t you hear me, I said left!” And now kids are fussing, little sister might be crying, the parents threaten to turn the car around and go right back home if you brats don’t start behaving, and vacation is ruined!
Okay. I’m exaggerating.
But maybe not by much, and that was the kind of moment I was tensed for as Ted missed an exit because I had failed to guide him correctly. We were trying to get back to our hotel eleven miles away by a route not clogged with traffic at six in the evening; we had forty minutes to deliver food to Jerry, who was sick with a vicious cold, and get back to the event center – sixteen miles from the hotel in rush hour – so we wouldn’t miss the evening’s festivities. I very much prefer physical paper maps to electronic devices, particularly when you’re in a strange place with different road structures than you’re used to and the iPhone doesn’t refresh to show your position until after you’ve missed the exit when you were expecting an intersection and you’re in the wrong lane on a frontage road!
But Ted just said, “It’s okay. Let it reroute and then start looking ahead like it’s a map.”
We made the next few turnings without mishap and were starting to make progress, but Ted’s phone kept trying to redirect us back toward the Expressway, which according to the traffic app was marked in several places in red. Now, me, I don’t care so much about being stopped in traffic. I generally take the most direct route and if I have to wait, so be it. Ted. Hates. Waiting. So he kept asking about the best routes, I kept searching and searching for a way back that wasn’t marked in red. At a stoplight he asked if he should keep following the state highway we were on, and I said yes. He turned.
I said, “I thought we were going to stick with state 5.” I tried not to yelp or accuse. “I did,” he said. “I’m following the detour.” And I said, “I meant for us to follow the road straight.” And braced myself.
Ted just said, “Don’t worry about it. It takes two people to have a misunderstanding.”
So we took the next turning – a road named North Meandering Way that would eventually bring us right back to State 5. I’m stressed and unnerved at this point because I keep waiting for a verbal explosion that just doesn’t come and I can’t quite believe that Ted is taking all this so calmly!
Meandering Way is well named. I’m keeping my eyes on the map in my hand, hoping we can get back to the hotel without any further delay. Then Ted stops in the middle of the road – no traffic behind us, nothing in front of us – and says with admiration and wonder in his voice, “Check that out, Ellie.”
Did I ever! I almost got out of the car, right there on the road, I wanted an unobscured picture so badly.
When we started moving again, I looked around instead of down again. A few tenths of a mile down the road we crossed a small creek; Ted stopped again, and I got another snapshot. Colors turn later down there in Texas than they do up north, but there was still more color than green to be seen.
We did eventually get to the hotel – Jerry was sitting up and feeling somewhat better – and we got to the event center before the seminar started. I even got a snapshot of the sunset that turned out nice even with all the buildings and power lines in the way. But there were no arguments, no bad feelings, no regrets.
So go ahead. Get lost. And while you’re at it, enjoy the ride. Don’t stress about lost time and unfamiliar territory. You never know what kind of beautiful sights you might see, or unique things you might find. Honestly, getting lost is sometimes the most fun you can have.
Until next time –