—From CB—

Tuesday I got very lost. I was coming back from a hostel near Pt. Reyes, an odd little town on the coast, and had a map TO but not a map FROM.

To give this some context: To stay sane, Elizabeth and I, some years ago, adopted the practice of once-a-month each going somewhere alone—a healthy antidote to being in each other’s shirtsleeves 24/7. Sometimes it’s to the city, sometimes to campgrounds, but since Covid a lot of the hostels have closed or upgraded to elite status. Not our cuppa tea.

But this one was open, mostly deserted but pleasant. I hadn’t realized, in driving there, that I wasn’t depending on the map so much as the roadsigns. I checked in, did some writing, ate a stodgy carry-out la sagna, and crashed. No snorers: I was utterly alone.

Next morning was just the drive home. That’s when I found I was lost. The first turn was obvious, and thereafter it was the fabled dog’s breakfast. Not that I’d ever chronicled what the dog ate for breakfast, the years that we had a dog, but it surely was nothing like what transpired or the dog wouldn’t have lasted that long.

Somewhere I took a wrong turn. Or I didn’t take it. But when I pulled into Stinson Beach, I realized I was whambang utterly lost. I found a guy to ask, “How do I get to the 101?” He was happy to give me the wrong directions. Somewhere I pulled in to a fire station. “How do I get to the 101.” Their directions were exquisite. I stayed lost.

How can you get firmer directions than at a fire station? They have to find fires. Quickly. You just trust that if you ever catch fire, they can find you.

For a while I drove along what clearly was the ocean, but this coast was full of peninsulas, so I might be going to where I had to come back from. And very slowly, given the curves. I regretted never learning to use the GPS on my phone and thus being unable to bitch about the lack of cellphone service. I started to have odd vibes of empathy with the Donner Party.

I turned around, traversed a long span of coastline, eventually saw a sign for Marin City, which I recalled as being somewhere on the 101. I headed there, asked directions again, this time the mother of a two-year-old, whom I thought must be knowledgeable. I followed her directions, got lost, then saw a sign for the 101. About 90 minutes later, I rolled into our driveway.

There was surely a lesson in this, and you’re never too old to learn a useful lesson that allows you to get a little older. Possibilities: (1) Look both ways at your map before you start your journey. (2) Abduct whomever you ask for directions. (3) Just die and save lots of time.

Or better, get directions for the way back. It can be done electronically, every turn described. There is hope for sinners; even more for the pure of heart.      


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