I don’t know the way to San Jose… or anywhere else

The first thing that I noticed when I moved in was the amount of sound. It’s solid, almost a wall. And like a Grateful Dead song, it never completely ends. The rhythm just changes. My new room is at the back of the apartment, which borders close to the highway. So, the drone lulls me to sleep at night, and builds to a roar that wakes me up in the morning. It’s actually very peaceful, in a white noise kind of way. Especially since I am up on the seventh floor, which strips everything of its urgency.

I found a place which is four stops by bus from work, but I’ve already managed to turn this into a 50 minute walk twice. My sense of direction is so bad, that even with GPS I can get comprehensively lost. One of my favorite games to play is “Match the Dots” with Google Maps. In Match the Dots, I tell Google where I need to go and I bring up the chart showing which direction it suggests. A dot appears showing where I am, and the point of the game is to have my dot stay on the recommended path for as long as possible. Then I time how long it takes for me to go the wrong way. For extra credit, I add in the amount of time it takes before I quit even trying to follow the directions, and stalk off in disgust, hoping to find the correct street, which, according to Google, is always just around the corner. The bonus round is where I break down sobbing in the middle of the street until a kind stranger points me the right way.

My problems with all things related to spatial perception are legendary. I have gotten lost inside the town where I live, after being there for 5 years, when the whole place is less than two miles across. Neighbors sketch me directions when I tell them I’m going to someone else’s house who lives more than two blocks away. It’s gotten to the point that when I decide that I should go left, I almost feel like I should go right, because there’s no way I could possibly have made the correct decision. And then I second guess myself, because I think, ‘That’s exactly how I would trick myself. I’m sneaky like that.’ Do they offer service dogs for people with a poor sense of direction?

The main reason that I have never liked driving is the fear that I will become one of those ladies who ends up on the news after a four day road trip, when all she wanted to do was get to the corner grocery store to buy a bottle of milk. When I heard the story of the astronaut who drove 900 miles to Florida in a diaper to kidnap her ex’s new girlfriend, I thought stocking the car with Depends might not be such a bad idea, considering I can never tell when that might happen to me. The long drive part, I mean. I wouldn’t drive more than 100 miles to kidnap my ex’s girlfriend.

Yesterday, at the suggestion of my new boss, I had lunch with one of my co-workers. She listened patiently for an hour as I gushed about how friendly people have been since I came to the big city, and that I was really lucky to have had so many people help me whenever I needed directions. She agreed that I was very fortunate, but pointed out that she didn’t think most people needed to be rescued quite so much as I did. It’s disconcerting when someone who barely knows you can pick up on your most basic personality traits better than your therapist. The best part was when we left the café, and I immediately headed off in the completely opposite direction from our office. She laid a hand on my shoulder to turn me around and said gently, “I’m there for you.”

I think I’m going to like the new office.


About the Author
Malynnda Littky made aliyah to Israel with her family in 2007 from Oak Park, Michigan. Her recent stay in Paris, enjoying both medical tourism and her new status as the trophy wife of a research economist, has renewed her love for Israel, despite arriving just in time to enjoy several weeks of lockdown.