21 Apr Someone Moved my Map and Other Adventures
I used to drive a 1980 firecracker red, Toyota Corolla. It had vinyl seats, a post-dealership Spark-o-matic radio, no A/C and an accelerator that could climb to 50+ miles an hour. I used to drive with the windows down and the wind in my hair and pretend I was really driving a red, BMW 325i convertible.
It was awesome.
In the glove box, I kept a map of Georgia. I needed it. I was just sixteen, a mere babe, and all my hopes and dreams rested on this first set of wheels to carry me to lands yet unexplored. I think my car lasted all of three weeks (think rainy night + new driver + failure to yield to the right of way). I said goodbye to the car, but the map stayed with me, a passenger to accompanying me through the journey—literally.
That was 27 years ago.
Using my 1990 Rand McNally road map, I figured out the way to all the places I wanted to go. My car was my freedom. Sometimes, I got lost. Okay, let’s be honest. A lot of the time I got lost. The map couldn’t tell me if a road was closed or if there was traffic or if a certain street was one way only. Plus, sometimes I got confused about which direction the roads were pointing. If I was supposed to go East at the intersection, did that mean I was supposed to turn right or left? I was constantly manipulating geometric figures in the landscape of my mind. Maybe that’s why I loathe IQ tests to this day. I can hear in my head a sound bite from Joey Tribbiani of Friends fame. Remember that episode when he was in London and kept saying, “Step into the map! Step into the map!”
Step into the map, Chantel! I’m pretty sure a lot of people who were stuck behind me at stop signs and traffic lights used their horns to inform me of their displeasure.
This was before road rage was a thing,.
I was in my early twenties when I started listening to elevator music on the way home from work. Traffic is stressful at any age.
Now I have a cell phone! And GPS! And Siri!
When I need to go someplace new, I just tell my car to take me there, and it does—a technological miracle I couldn’t even imagine the first time I cranked the ignition and threw my precious Corolla into reverse. (Sorry about the mailbox, Dad!)
My phone is my new best friend. There’s always a nice, calm voice resting in the console of my pimped out decade-old minivan telling me where to go. I don’t even have to think about it. Traffic? Road closures? Unexpected bridge collapse on I-85 in Atlanta? That’s child’s play. Siri knows the way around it. I trust her implicitly. Her sense of direction can’t be beat. I simply roll down the windows, blast that XM satellite radio, and pretend I’m a cooler, younger version of myself.
Maybe there’s a drawback to this new and improved life hack. I wonder sometimes if it hasn’t made me afraid to try new things. Has it made me impatient when things don’t go as planned? Has it deprived me of unexpected adventure? I want to reclaim the spontaneity of youth. I want it all–a map that allows me to go anywhere I want, but I also want something to validate that I’m exactly where I should be. Grow where I’m planted kind of a thing, you know.
I went to college in Indiana, near US 41 and then later moved to Marietta, GA, also near US 41. I used to wonder what it would be like to drive my car all the way from Georgia to Indiana on US 41. It parallels I-75 almost the whole way. In fact, if I were really ambitious I could drive all the way from Miami to Michigan on that highway.
It would take SO LONG.
And I might go through a BAD NEIGHBORHOOD.
And maybe worst of all, what if I got BORED?
There’s more than one way to reach a destination.
The best thing about being human is that we get to choose our own adventure.