There are a lot of things I admire about my parents, and would like to emulate. My mother has the patience Mother Teresa, for example. My dad can fix anything, even stuff that wasn't broken before, and I love his gregarious personality. But instead of those traits, I got Mom's bad teeth, Dad's bad vision, and one more thing from Dad - a lousy sense of direction.
It was inevitable, I guess - the story goes that when Mom was in labor with me, there was construction and Dad ended up getting lost on the way to the hospital. As is typical of family stories, I don't think they were in any danger of having me on the side of the road, but it fed the stereotype of Dad as someone who was always getting lost.
In my family, we called them “shortcuts.” One memorable shortcut was on our way to Hersheypark in Pennsylvania that took an extra two hours. After that, anytime it seemed like Dad was lost, we would ask, “Did you take a shortcut?” Fortunately, he never seemed to have a problem being lost. He just laughed it off.
Well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. When I got my driver’s license, all of a sudden those places that I had been driven to for years seemed like grand adventures. Would I get there? Would I make it home?
I would drive to the stake center 30 minutes away and it would take me an hour to get home. After high school graduation, I attended my very first Single Adult activity in Annapolis, about an hour from home. Once I recognized the looks I was getting as “Look, fresh meat!” I realized the difference between “Single Adult” and “Young Single Adult” (roughly twenty years at this place) and hightailed it out of there. But I didn’t get home for about three hours, after getting lost and ending up in one of the scarier parts of Baltimore.
When I drove from Maryland to California, I defied Mom’s predictions by only getting lost once, after leaving a Dairy Queen rest stop in Wyoming. My only options were towards “Laramie” or “Green River,” so naturally I picked the wrong one and headed east for half an hour before I could turn around. Happily, I was able to stop at the DQ again on the way back. Man, I love me them Blizzards!
Things were supposed to get easier when I moved to Utah. The whole numbered-streets, inspired-grid-system thing was going to be my navigational salvation. And it is, so long as the place you are looking for has a numbered address, the road is either north-south or east-west and not diagonal, and you can figure out which direction north, south, east, or west is.
For some reason, the church built the Mt, Timpanogos Temple way the heck out in the middle of nowhere, and I have the hardest time getting there. The directions I got the first time I went were kind of vague: Turn right on the street right before the Purple Turtle, then turn left at the "Manila 1890" sign, and there it is.
One time I missed the turn at the Manila sign and didn't realize that I was lost until I got to a booth at the entrance to the Uinta National Forest. Apparently, my stake forgot to ask an important question in the temple recommend interview: “Do you have an intimate knowledge of American Fork and surrounding environs?”
I found myself alone at the temple last night, and when I was leaving, I ended up taking a “shortcut” back to our home in Orem via… Alpine. Yes, Alpine. Not that it isn’t a lovely town, but I was as surprised to find it there as if I had just come across the city of Enoch.
I attempted to come up with reasons why I had gotten lost – The clouds were hiding the mountains, so I couldn’t tell which way was east! The road I was on didn’t have numbers! I swear I was going the right way, but I accidentally parked on the wrong side of the building! None of that sounded plausible, even to me, so I decided to do what Dad would have done. I laughed out loud, then turned up the radio, and headed home.
Not everyone is lucky enough to get the genes that make even a drive home from the temple a mini-adventure.