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Thursday, December 27, 2012

This Looks Like a Dream I Once Had, or Holy Smokes, What Happened to This Road?


With the band of weirdos that boarded the bus this morning and a head cold that is threatening to franchise, you'd think I'd have more to say than this re-post from almost a full year ago, wouldn't you?

Yeah. Me, too.



Every now and then, I don’t know where I am.

This is to be expected.

I was prepped for it as a child, where directions were given by the locals more often than not by referencing people and events from well before our arrival.

“Carlson’s farm? Sure! First you go north, just past the old Schmidt place, over there by where the feed mill used to be. You’re going to want to head east on the second possible right – not the first! The first right will take you to Carlson’s milk barn, and you don’t want that. Go past the first right, go east on the second right, then go until you hit the dirt road. It’ll be easy to spot, it’s just before the oak that was hit by lightning, the one split down the middle. If you go past the split oak, you’ve gone too far. Go until you see the Raabe’s mailbox – it’s shaped like a leaping trout – then go another mile or so and you should find it all right. You’ll know you’re there when a pack of dogs runs alongside the car from the mailbox to the front door. You’ll want to honk your horn and let Arne come and get you. Them dogs are a bit friendly.”

Excellent directions! We’ll pack a lunch.

And so I became accustomed to being lost. We moved yearly (“It’s harder to hit a moving target!” chortled my father); and while the trailer we moved from park to park remained the same, the view outside the front door was always different.

“You’re not lost!” my dad would say. “You’re being challenged. Are ya goin’ to rise to the challenge, Miss Pearl?"

Absolutely, Dad.

But you don’t have to move to another town to be personally challenged.

You could simply follow the orange construction signs.

Minnesota is infamous for the time and money it puts into road construction. With the weather’s freeze/thaw/freeze/thaw pattern, the roads are capable of going Mesozoic at any time; and every year, whole cars disappear down potholes only to reappear, if the rumors are true, in China.

Everybody knows that those really deep holes go straight to China.

With road construction comes road detours. Detours that lead up and around, sometimes through. Detours for roads that used to go over there but now have plans to go over there.

One minute you’re driving from Point A to Point B and the next minute, via a large orange sign, someone’s tossed in Point C.

I don’t remember this, do you? Do you remember this road looking like this? Where am I? There’s an intersection that looks just like this in central Wisconsin. I couldn’t be in Wisconsin, could I?

No, you couldn’t, you silly person.

All over the world, people are frowning through their windshields, wondering if they’ve taken a wrong turn, perhaps having ended up in central Wisconsin. We’re out there, aren’t we, thinking we’re heading in one direction, sure of our destination, only to sometimes find ourselves surrounded by orange construction cones and unfamiliar territory.

Too often we ask ourselves if we are lost, but perhaps the real question is whether the markers we were told to watch for are still relevant to our search.

Because most of the time, you know, we’re not really lost.

We’re just being personally challenged.

25 comments:

vanilla said...

Oh, yes. How many orange cones are thrown up along the search for life's destination!

Pearl said...

vanilla, they sprout daily!

Suldog said...

Over the weekend, 12 of my family went out to eat. We drove in two cars. I was the pilot of one.

We arrive at the restaurant, which does not have anything except on-street parking. I drop off my passengers, as does my nephew driving the other vehicle, and we go to look for parking spots.

He finds one, and points out one on the other side of the street for me. All I have to do is go up a half-block, pull a U-turn, and there I go. Except a U-turn is illegal, so I decide I can just hook a right, then a left, then another left - you know, go around the block. I take the right.

The first left is a one-way street. I can't go down it. So is the next left, and the one after that. The road I'm on ends with only a right possible. I take it. Then I encounter three more one-way streets I can't go down, then I take another right, then the only possible left, and now I am utterly and confoundingly lost.

It took me a good fifteen minutes to find the restaurant again. Meanwhile, everyone was so concerned with my absence that they had already ordered and were eating appetizers when I showed up. It's nice to be loved.

In other words, your story struck a chord.

sage said...

I would appreciate if you don't allow that head cold of yours to set up out-of-state franchises. I hope you're feeling better soon and thanks for the laugh.

Pearl said...

Suldog, sounds like an experience I had in Boston once. Man, in some cities, you canNOT go around the block!

Sage, :-) I'll see what I can do. I'm pretty sure I got it on the bus, though, so who knows where it was heading when it ran into me??

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

We are road construction challenged here as well....all summer long the Guelphite refrain of "you can't get there from here" can be heard. I've seen parts of the city that haven't been explored since John Galt founded the darn place whilst just tring to find my way home.
I do hope your cold is better soon Pearlie Girl...that's a challenge all on its own.

Pearl said...

Thank you, Delores. I am finding that my sneezing is keeping people from my cubicle, which is okay when you feel like I'm feeling! No visitors required!

Simply Suthern said...

I was driving around one day and much to my surprise actually found myself in Wisconsin.

Macy said...

Road works?? They've been digging up Edinburgh's roads for the past three years
No chance of us ending up in Wisconsin mind you

joeh said...

This is why men don't ask for direction.

Eva Gallant said...

Orange cones: the signs of roadside Armageddon!

Eva Gallant said...

Orange cones: the signs of roadside Armageddon!

Craver Vii said...

Personally challenged? Not me; I just get lost. I'll admit that I am so bad with directions that the nice lady in my GPS must get super-frustrated with me.

Joanne Noragon said...

They give the same directions here. No matter who lives in the house now it's a well known landmark under another name. If I get the directioneer to give me a good fix on the house, then I say, "Oh, the Joneses live there," it's another half hour discourse on everyone who occupied the house from then to now and I still don't know how to get where I'm going.

jenny_o said...

That "giving directions based on old landmarks" thing is all too familiar here. Mostly it's old businesses we use as guideposts. I blame it on the terrible economy we've had for the past fifty years. So many tenants have come and gone in some buildings that we can't keep track. People new to the area don't have a prayer of getting good directions from a local. Fortunately it's a small enough place that all you need to do is go to the nearest hill and you can get your bearings :)

Feel better soon, Pearl.

Geo. said...

Delightful post! Strangely I have more trouble finding my way back from places than I do getting to them.

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

Ha! I can just hear your dad: "You're not lost. You're challenged!"

Oh, I'm challenged alright, Pearl's pop.

I raise my can of artichoke hearts in salute.

The Elephant's Child said...

Those directions happen here as well. Turn left at where the red mill used to be...
Get better v soon. Colds are the pits.

Kana said...

Just back from HI, back in AK - if I wind up in Wisconsin, "challenged" won't be a strong enough word.

Probably see you in the central intersection soon! Give me a wave, but don't honk...my poor little heart shan't take it.

Gigi said...

I'm directionally-challenged enough without throwing in those detours! I've lived here for about 15 years and still find myself driving in circles. *sigh*

Daisy said...

I am personally challenged quite often, with or without those orange cones. I haven't yet bought a GPS, but I may have to resort to that.

Red said...

Your directions are a classic! They are given from the person's perspective rather that the listeners perspective.

HermanTurnip said...

This is no joke. When the wife drags me to Wisconsin to see her folks, the roads are always choked with construction signs warning of road repair. Guess winter does a number on the roads over there.

Rose L said...

I got so lost once in Portland, OR. I thought I would never make it home. The directions home were different than those headed home due to one way roads and construction detouring me and then no longer having signs (assumed I knew where I was headed I guess). It was evening and I was so afraid to roll down my window and ask one of the many odd looking pedestrians for directions. All had grocery carts of some kind and apparently homeless. I wondered if they had also been lost and ran out of gas, thus forced to live on the streets. I began to fear ending up forever lost in Portland and wandering its streets with a glazed look in my eyes begging for directions home. Finally I stopped in front of a pub and went inside, teary-eyed. "Can someone give me directions on how to get back to Oregon City?" The bartender looked at me and said, "Where's Oregon City? Is it north or south of Portland??"
I was ready to scream when an older gentleman came up and said, "I'll help you young missy." (I was 59 at the time so being called young missy was flattering) He began to give me directions as I hastily scribbled them down. I eventually made it home and vowed to NEVER drive in Portland again.

Jo-Anne Meadows said...

This was great, it is the first time I have read this