Garmins don’t work if you don’t use them.

“I think fall is coming!” Jake said happily, looking at the orange leaves on the grass below our Mayday tree. It is weird that two weeks ago we were doing this:

And now I’m wearing a sweater. August in Calgary. My thoughts, since we returned from vacation, have been turning to back to school, specifically in the clothing department since my children are looking decidedly like hobos. Yesterday, though, I went to Mountain Equipment Co-Op to pick up a lined jacket for Mark – Jake, in the tradition of subsequent children everywhere, is the recipient of Mark’s old jacket: “Mark, this is the jacket you GAVE me” he says in a heartbreakingly cheerful way – and it was a trip filled with mental anguish on my part. I’ve mentioned, I’m sure, my absolutely terrible sense of direction. I Mapquest everything, both directions. I once got so lost driving through Houston in a rental car that I actually LEFT Houston and ended up in a gas station in Sugarland, where the attendant informed me I was in an entirely different location and I cried a little, then turned the wrong way to get back on the interstate and drove for twenty minutes before realizing my mistake and making an illegal u-turn on some strange Texan secondary road. It’s like I am destroying the women’s movement with every turn of my wheels; like I’m just begging for some man to ruffle my hair and tell me not to worry my pretty little head about it, driving is a man’s job anyway, and am I crying because it’s my ladies’ days? Then best not to go hiking in the woods. My husband, exasperated with what he perceives as mental laziness in the matter of directions – “How can you not know which way is north? You’re a smart person!” – bought me a Garmin, which seems to have only escalated my direction-related anxiety, since I’m sure that it’s going to give me weird directions and also I only remember to use it when I’m actually driving and certainly unable to locate it, type in an address, and affix it to my windshield.

So I was heading to the Mountain Equipment Co-Op, a place where I have been many, many times, and also used to live within walking distance to, and yet. And yet I was coming from a different direction and therefore I couldn’t picture where, exactly, I was supposed to turn to get there. True story. I used to live within walking distance to it and yet I could not figure out where to turn. I finally circled around to some streets that would surely lead me to my destination, only to find them CLOSED due to construction. Did I mention it was pouring rain and there was a tangle of traffic? And that my kids were in the back seat, talking, talking, talking. And then once we did get there no parking spots were available and I circled the lot, whilst children talked. And talked. And talked.

You know, it’s the talking that can kill you. So I was pretty much in need of a sedative/drink/box of cupcakes by the time someone pulled out of a parking spot, and I flipped on my turn signal. The man pulling out suddenly put his car into park, jumped out of his car, and headed toward me, hand outstretched. He handed me his ticket from the parking meter, with time left on it, and told me he hoped I was having a good day. And after that small, kind gesture, I was.


  1. I hear you.
    When people ask me what way my house faces i tell them it faces the street. Beyond that, I have no idea. Which exasperates my husband to NO END.
    And the talking? While mommy is driving? And lost? Oh heavens.

  2. I have ZERO sense of map/direction. I’ll drive three sides of a square to get somewhere, realizing only years later I could have just driven the fourth side. And I was picturing a town I drive to all the time as north and east of us, but actually it’s south and west. But I FELT like I was driving UP to get there!

  3. GOD, I feel so at home here! I once tried to mapquest the drive from a mall where I was meeting my friends in another city to the hotel where we were staying. The directions said something like “turn on car, turn left, arrive at destination, 0.01 km, you total geographical simpleton”. Last week trying to find someone’s cottage I drove the wrong way into a construction-barricaded street. I always think my GPS is going to send me down a dark unpaved road in the woods and leave me for dead.

  4. I feel the same way about driving. I try to act like a modern mother and take my kids into DC by myself (where one wrong turn could be very, very bad). It is so stressful. I hate to admit it, but I have been known to shout, “don’t talk for a minute!” in order to clear my head.

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