15 Feb The Art of Getting Lost
I started driving before GPS was readily available, so getting lost or as my grandmother says “going on spontaneous adventures,” was commonplace. When I first started driving, I was so bad at directions, no matter where I was trying to get to I would always end up on Mulholland Drive. Fun fact, I lived nowhere near Mulholland. It was my personal bermuda triangle. I had no idea how I got there, or how I was going to get out. I would stop and ask for directions, hoping the gas station attendant wouldn’t use north or south so I didn’t have to nod and pretend I knew which direction west was. Without looking at a clock, I can tell you the time of day with pinpoint accuracy, but my sense of direction is about a useful as a 99 cent store compass. So now that I have GPS on my phone I can get places quickly and not spend so much time wondering how I ended up on Mulholland again.
One-time me, my girlfriend at the time, and my brother’s best friend were driving home to LA from a party my Uncle was having. My uncle lives in Riverside, halfway between LA and San Diego. My girlfriend and brother’s friend were arguing with each other pretty bad. I was an enemy to both parties, to him I was dating this overly-sensitive pompous witch, and to her I invited a rude ill-mannered hoodlum into the car. In the heated debate they were having, I got confused as to which direction to jump on the freeway and neither of them listened to my pleas for help. In a panic instead of going north, I took the southbound onramp and didn’t realize my mistake for a good hour and a half. So we got lost, and I was stuck in the most awkward car ride of my life. Even my terrible karaoke couldn’t cut through the tension in the air. We ended up in San Diego, which in the moment seemed like a grave mistake. Now I had a 3-4 hour awkward car ride home, instead of just 1 hour of terrible silence and murderous gazes. But to my surprise it wasn’t that bad. We found a small restaurant on the beach, shared a plate of tacos and actually had a good time making fun of me, the worst navigator in history. My utter lack of direction lead to a spontaneous trip to San Diego that got two people to come together and find common ground.
Now that we all have a Tom-Tom in our pocket at all times, you really have to try and get lost. This boost in tech has helped us a lot in navigating our way through familiar but dense cities, or guiding us to places we’ve never been. I often wonder what it was like to long distances without the assurance of Google Maps telling me where my off-ramp is. Sure there were maps on the Thomas-guide, but I’m not Magellan and outside of my home area, I have no idea where I’m at on a map. This has also helped businesses. You no longer need a pizza boy who knows the city like the back of his hand to find an address, let alone pick the most efficient route to get there. The UPS driver doesn’t have to study a map to get you your package, just simply put in his destinations and listen for his queues. But I can’t help but wonder what’s lost in never getting lost anymore.