There’s nothing like getting lost to bring on panic.
This topic is on my mind for a couple of reasons. First, because last week I drove to a neighboring town to meet a friend, but the meeting never took place. I got lost.
I carried a printout of directions with me. They led me to take the wrong freeway exit, drive for miles and make frequent stops in the middle of a street-widening project, land in a neighborhood instead of a business park, and spend more than an hour searching for my destination. When I found it, my friend had left. By the time I returned home I’d traveled forty exasperating miles.
Last week’s confusion took place in territory that was somewhat familiar. Much more frightening is getting lost in another country. That’s happened to me twice, once in Tokyo and once in Seville.
In Tokyo on an educational exchange, I discovered that my guide and fellow educators disappeared from a store. Or so I thought. As it turned out they were still in the store when I disappeared. I searched for them in a nearby park and panicked. We were due at the Ministry of Education in ten minutes. The only Japanese words I knew were ‘good morning,’ ‘goodbye,’ ‘thank you’ and something like, ‘Here’s my business card.’ But with a of knowledge and a huge amount of luck, I found my way to the right building and even made it through the guard station without a security pass.
In Seville I thought I was retracing an earlier walk my husband and I had taken. Instead I ended up a mile or so from our hotel in unfamiliar territory during a pelting rainstorm. Finally I spotted a familiar church tower in the distance to guide me, but still had a terrible time navigating through the maze of streets in the old quarter of the city to our hotel. A torrent of panic pelted me as hard as the rain.
Getting lost intellectually is as frustrating as getting lost in a place. I met with my writing coach today to talk about how to bring all the threads of my story together to end my novel. I left our session completely befuddled. Worse, there’s no map or person walking down the street I can ask for directions. But just as I found my way around Tokyo and Seville I expect I’ll find my way out of my muddle. But not without panic first setting my search in motion.