Some of you know me well. Some of you don’t know me at all. So, that’s why I am taking the time to write this: I hate driving. It’s a little known fact about me that I tell everyone.
Why do I hate driving? Driving is needless complication of things. Let’s face it: I’m not smooth. I tend to mess things up, especially when it means that someone might die. I have grandiose visions of fiery car wrecks where my little white car, Stallion, is responsible for shutting down two elementary schools, a nunnery, and a retard house. I didn’t mean “retard house”; I meant “fraternity”. Seriously, it’s like God is rooting for me, but Satan is beating me in the face with my own arms, saying, “Why are you hitting you hitting yourself? Don’t hit yourself.”
The other part is that I’m bad with directions. Ok, I’m horrible. Story One : My dad wanted me to drive out to Dakota Granite one day. Dakota Granite is in the country between Big Stone and Milbank. Did I say “country” ? I meant “flat, boring wilderness” instead. Anyway, he gives me the directions: drive out to the Legion, turn south, drive for about 5 miles, turn left at the ‘Dakota Granite’ sign, and go inside Gizzlebees, err, Dakota Granite.
I get out to the Legion, check. I take a right, check. I drive for about 5 miles, check. I look for the ‘Dakota Granite’ sign. Nothing. I keep driving. The road comes to a junction. I turn left. I drive and drive and drive, and I go right past Mike and Lonie’s house. This doesnï¿½t’ seem right, but I keep going. 20 minutes later I am in Wilmot.
I call my dad. I explain to him, almost in tears, that I was horribly lost and that I felt terrible about being such a retarded driver and that if I never saw him again, I was sorry and I loved him. He tells me to quit being a girl and to suck it up or he’ll use his belt. Then he tells me that South is left not right. One minor detail can make everything go wrong.
Story two : this weekend my cousin Dirk played at the Dome in Vermillion. I was quite impressed with how good a football player he is. Unfortunately, their team lost. Also unfortunate was that they decided to finally lose at 12 in the morning. Vermillion is quite a ways from Sioux Falls, which is only a little bit from Madison.
My family gets to Sioux Falls. This is where Bryce, Lindsey and Tony take their vehicle and drive to Madison, and Megan and I take my vehicle and drive to Madison. We say our tired, cranky goodbyes, and Megan and I take off. The nice thing about this was that Megan said she would drive. The bad thing is that neither of us knows Sioux Falls very well.
Being the navigator, I order her to drive south. The street numbers get bigger and bigger. My plan is to take us to 41st street, which is a big road that goes out to the Interstate. The problem with this plan is that my Aunt Karin’s house is in the part of town where big and bad 41st is a stupid little residential street. I hadn’t planned on that.
We try to take 41st around, but it gets bisected by something. So, we turn north. We go north for a while. Then I make us go west again. My process for deciding when to do this is that I watch the street names, and if I can picture my dad saying, “Take that road; it won’t get you lost”, then we take it. Otherwise we keep going.
The avenue numbers get smaller and smaller until Minnesota. Why not turn on Minnesota? Now we’re going north again. The street numbers get smaller and smaller again. I recognize things. This is excellent. We hit Russell (?) and normally one would turn west again and take that road to the interstate.
Russell is being worked on. Please use our horrible detour which doesn’t make sense. So, I did that. We go straight, on a half-gravel road. We travel forever until I recognize something else, the airport. This is great. I’m out of my element in a car. I probably could be cool and smart and logical if we were lost on bicycles. But we were not.
We get to a ‘T’ intersection. Our choices are right or left. Left says “I90” and right says “I29”. Megan says, “I think we should go left.” I say, “I think we should go right.” I try to pry my memory for which number my dad would say, but he could too easily say either one. He’s good with saying numbers. Since Megan’s driving, I say, “Let’s go left.” We drive for about 10 minutes and end up on the Interstate. This is just as planned, except when we see the turn off for Brandon, SD. It is about then that I think we went the wrong way.
No problem, we turn back around and drive and drive and drive. We make it onto I29, no problem, and begin the trek home. 20 more minutes driving, my mom calls. “Where are you guys AT?” At that point we were just outside of the Baltic exit, which is around 30 miles from Sioux Falls. “Baltic? You’ve been driving for over an hour and you’re only at Baltic?” I told her that we got a little lost and that I didn’t want to talk about it. I said that, instead, she should check my website in a couple of days and the whole story would be there.
We drive for endless amounts of time, and finally end up in Madison, where my brother, Lindsey, and Tony are already there, and have been for some time, even though they left first. It’s hard to explain the story without embarrassing myself, “You went down to 41st??”, and without giving people the wrong impression, “What were you doing in Baltic of a half an hour? Eh, eh??”
Bearing in mind that that happened Saturday night, let’s jump to Monday night. Megan and I decide to go for a car ride. I had no homework due on Tuesday, and she didn’t have any homework due on Tuesday, so we decided to cruise around the scenic Madison countryside… at night.
We have these great, long talks. We can discuss anything. It’s so great to just get lost in conversation. This is, however, a bad idea when you are driving. She would drive, get to an intersection, and ask me which way we should go. I pick at random, like I do in so many other things, and when you don’t remember what decisions you made, you get lost.
When we finally decided that we wanted to go home, we weren’t really sure where we were. It would have been easier getting back if we knew if we were north, south, east, or west of Madison, but they all look the same when there’s no sun or compass. So, we just drove. Then I would pick a direction at random, again, and we would drive some more. We drove and drove and found some city lights. “Let’s go toward that one. It looks big; it looks right.”
Madison is a city of 6,540 people. It covers a land area of 4.3 square miles. Wentworth is a city of 188 people. I felt like a big idiot when we drove into “Madison” to find “Wentworth” pasted all over the main street businesses. We were lost.
“Where is Wentworth?”
“I don’t know. Near Madison.”
“We are so lost! We’ll never get home…” Sobbing ensued. Once I composed myself, we started driving again. I picked another direction at random. Then Megan had a “eureka” moment. “I have a map in the glove box.”
We poured (because that is a great verb) over the map and discovered just how far away from Madison we actually were. Wentworth is about 10 miles away. Okay, it doesn’t sound that bad, but we were scared. Once I discovered what the numbers on the map meant, it was quick going. Then it was the process of finding a road with that number (which we never did) and then pretending like you found it and not telling her that you made it up until you’re outside of the ghetto Food Pride in Madison.
As we cruised the Madison streets, at midnight, heading slowly towards my house, I thought about all the losting I’ve been doing in my life. I think, despite all the tears and frustration, I’d rather be a loster than a finder. I think being lost, and getting found, is much more fun. In the words of Justin Timberlake, “You know, I used to dream about this when I was a little boy. I never thought it would end up this way. Drums.”
Yes, Justin. Drums, indeed.