Sweet Tea is a great driver, but she has no idea where she is going most of the time. She’s only lived in this large city for a couple of years, and she has lived in three different parts of the city during that time period so it’s understandable that she might get lost now and then. When she first moved here she bought a GPS and named her Karen. Karen was a great navigator. Anywhere Sweet Tea wanted to go Karen could get her there. She might take her the long way, but eventually she arrived at her destination. When Sweet Tea and I started dating I competed with Karen for navigational duties. Most of the time it was because I knew a quicker way than Karen planned to take us. I knew which roads to avoid and where the shortcuts were. But there was a big problem with my taking over the navigation duties. I don’t multi-task well so I would get involved in the conversation and forget to tell Sweet Tea where to turn. I did usually know where to go, but I would forget to speak up soon enough to get there.
Sweet Tea also has another issue with navigation. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve directed her to a place she still needs me to show her the way most of the time. I understand this. When Karen navigated she just followed her directions. She didn’t pay attention to landmarks or street names. When I gave directions it was the same way. She just did what I said without question. Most of the time it isn’t a big deal. I am there to guide her. It only becomes an issue when she needs to get someplace we’ve been numerous times before, and I’m not going with her.
The funny thing about all of this is that in my past life I sucked at navigation. I could read a map and get where I needed to go for sure. The thing was that so many times someone else was doing the driving and they knew exactly where they were going. I was just along for the ride. I lived in the same city in Turkey for almost 7 years and still never completely learned my way around. There were certain places that I could get to with my eyes closed, but there were many others that, despite the fact that I had been to them over and over, I couldn’t have found my way to them on my own if my life depended on it.
I’ll never forget when a new friend moved to our city. I had already lived there for a year and a half and had taken a bus downtown numerous times. The problem was that once I got off the bus I wasn’t very adventurous. I was scared to walk too far away from the bus terminal. This friend and I started exploring the city on foot together. She worked at a radio station part-time and on several occasions I went with her to take care of some work related stuff. The station was located in an apartment building about a 10 minute walk from where we got off the bus. I don’t recall how many times I had been to her office before the day came when she asked me to meet her there. I had no idea where to go. All the times we had been there together I just followed her. I never paid any attention to the landmarks we passed. I never paid any attention to the outside of the apartment building. That day I got off the bus and realized I had no idea which direction to turn. I was lost. I had to call her and have her guide me. After listening to her tell me which way to go and where to turn I had no problems finding the station. I looked at landmarks and buildings along the way and made sure to memorize my turns. I was found.
I think my life was like that. For so long I was just along for the ride. I was a follower. I didn’t pay attention to how to get anywhere. One day I woke up and realized I had no idea how I had gotten where I was. I was lost, and I was alone. Since that day I have studied maps, listened to directions, paid attention to landmarks and have slowly but surely found my way.
When I first started writing this post I thought it was going to be a funny account of how Sweet Tea depends on me to get her where she needs to go even though I often fail miserably at that job. It never got funny and then it morphed into something completely different. Hm…