I went on a bit of a journey last night, and I’m not quite sure whether it was a dream, or a nightmare. Perhaps I’ll leave it until the end of the tale to decide…
Yesterday, Jim and I drove out to Marine City, a small town about 90 miles from our home, where the chorus Jim sings with was giving a concert. I always enjoy hearing the group sing, but I usually prefer to arrive right at concert time, instead of two hours prior, the group’s usual call time. Surely, I thought, I could find somewhere to pass the time before the concert- a bookstore, a coffee shop. Jim did an internet search and located a shopping mall just 3.7 miles from the performing arts center. Great, I thought. Even I couldn’t get lost in 3.7 miles.
It was a beautiful day for a little road trip. With minimal traffic to impede our journey, were reached the freeway exit in record time. The remainder of the trip had us winding down a quiet two lane highway, lined with acres of now fallow fields, glistening with mositure from the recent early spring thaws.
We pulled into the parking lot just in time to greet several of Jim’s “brothers in song” who were unloading their garment bags, music folders, and water bottles. Jim hastily grabbed up the Yahoo maps he had printed out and carefully stapled together. “Look,” he instructed me, “you just take this road out here up to Wadham’s, which looks like a dead end, then turn left on King, hop on the freeway going east. I can’t tell exactly which exit the mall is, but it’s probably this first one.” He tossed the map collection into my lap, and hopped out of the car. “See you later!” he called cheerily.
Before I go further, I must confess that (1) I am utterly hopeless with directions, and (2) terrified of getting lost. I can’t read maps (no, really, I can’t!) and my natural sense of direction is~well, challenged, to say the least. “I hope so,” I said, now surveying the remote landscape I had enjoyed just a moment eariler with great trepidation.
Gathering up my courage, I climbed into the driver’s seat. I found the first road on my itinerary without difficulty, and a feeling of confidence began to creep into my mind. I was breezing happily along, when I decided to check the trip odometer. Wait~how could I have traveled 6.3 miles already?? The mall was only supposed to be 3.7 miles away, and I hadn’t even reached the freeway? Well, the map was wrong, that’s all, I thought. Sure enough, here was the dead end at King Road, where I was to turn left. With no oncoming traffic in either direction, I swung onto King, glancing at the digital compass which indicated I was traveling North. Like Gretel, in the famous fairy tale, I made a mental breadcrumb note that on my return trip, I should be traveling South on King.
After another 8.9 miles, I finally reached the freeway. The first exit promised nothing more that a Speedy Gas Station. After another 4.2 miles, I reached the next exit, which I had completely passed before I noticed what looked like an outlet mall~could that be the shopping mall I was looking for? I kept traveling, determined to turn around at the next exit. Suddenly, a large blue sign loomed in front of me. “Blue Water Bridge/Canada Next Exit.”
Panic. Bridge? Canada? I glanced at the clock – I had been driving for 30 minutes already, and gone nowhere. My head was spinning…okay, okay, just turn around and go back exactly the way you came, I thought. Forget the shopping – I don’t even like outlet malls all that much.
Anxiously taking the first of several exits marked “Bridge to Canada,” I wheeled into the parking lot of Ron’s Harbor House Restaurant and turned around. Back to the freeway – west toward Detroit (oh, blessed Detroit!)
By this time, the sun was setting, a glorious orange fireball that I would have enjoyed tremendously on any other day. Right now, however, I was driving directly into it, and the damn thing was completely blinding me! Wait – there’s the King Road exit! A quick veer to the right, a left turn, double check the compass (South, thank God!), a deep breath. I’ll be allright now.
I arrived back at the performing arts center in plenty of time for the concert, and I spent several moments just sitting in the car, reflecting on my journey. In some ways, I had set myself up for failure on that trip. Feeling anxious from the moment I left, second guessing myself along the way, not preparing myself by writing out directions, which I know I need to do based on my inability to read maps easily. I have often made those same mistakes on the journey that is my life, turning things that should have been a dream experience into a nightmare. Ending up nowhere near the place I intended to be, giving up in defeat, and going home feeling relieved, but also feeling like a failure.
Dreaming is great, and I’ve already determined to set some dream goals for myself. But the journey toward making those dreams come true will require a positive attitude, and a realistic plan of action.
“So,” Jim asked, as we were getting into the car after the concert, “did you find a way to keep busy?”
“Oh, yes,” I replied, “no problem at all!”