No Sense of Direction

I could get lost in my own backyard. It's a cliche, but true. I not only have no sense of direction, I have a negative pull when it comes to figuring out where the heck I am. Tonight, for example, I got lost driving to a SCBWI (Society of Children Book Writers & Editors) Schmooze session in Winston-Salem. The chaos began when I thought I knew exactly where I was going.  That should have been my first clue something was amiss.

We were meeting at a Borders. When I visualized the location, I thought it was in a shopping center I knew. So I drove to the Center and guess what? No Borders. I drove a little further in the hopes of accidentally bumping into the shopping center. This is a tactic I often employ but it didn't pan out so I turned around.

By this time I thought I remembered the Borders being near the interstate and that I might know how to get there. But, to be safe, I stopped at an Exxon station and asked for directions. "Just pull left out of here," said the cashier motioning. "Then left on Knollwood and that will take you right there."

Simple. But when I went to pull out of the station, I was confused. Did she mean go left on the little side road the station was on or left on the big road I had pulled off of to get to the station? I decided the big road was the safer bet. And--here's the surprising part--I was wrong.

So I drive a couple miles and pull up to a cop at a stoplight. I motion him to roll down his window. "I'm trying to get to Borders," I say.

"Turn around and go back," he said. "Take the Stratford road exit on the left (emphasis mine). You'll come right to it."

Fine. I turn around, pass a Stratford Road exit on the right only to find there is no left exit to Stratford. Grrrrr.  So I hop on 40 W and just hope for the best as I dial Blair. He answers. "I'm lost," I announce.

"Where are you?"

"Coming up on Jonestown Rd."

"You're going the wrong way. Turn around and take the Stratford Road exit."

So I finally get to my meeting. But this is my life. People make fun of me for leaving for the airport 3 hours early or  allowing 1 hour for a 15 minute drive, but this is the perfect example of why that extra time is a necessity in my life.

My friend Heather has gone so far to accuse me of sucking the directional sense out people. Heather never gets lost unless I'm in the car with her. She may have a point. When I was in Portland my editor drove me to a PetSmart that she pretty much knew the way too but wasn't worried b/c she had a great sense of direction. We drove around for 20 minutes trying to find the place.

"It's me," I told her when she apologized. "This is my fault." 

I'm thinking when we leave for Europe I need to have no contact with the pilots whatsoever. If I even just say hello, we may end up in Japan.