Perdido (a)Sunday, December 19, 2010
After about almost 40 years of marriage (Rosemary and I now have been married since 1968) it dawned on me one day that Rosemary was terrible in going places and had no idea on how to read a map. When Rosemary wants to go to town she asks me for directions and this always involves me directing her first to take the Cambie Street Bridge which is the only route she sort of knows. To this day when she has to go somewhere by herself she is antsy about getting lost. But consider that if you give her any address in Vancouver she seems to know some formula that escapes me, and she will place you within a block of where you are going.
In Buenos Aires I knew how to get anywhere via trains, subways and colectivos (buses). I never did drive nor would I ever attempt to drive in my place of birth. Some of those 12 lane avenues with no dividers or painted lines would freeze me in neutral for ever.
In Mexico I learned to drive and to drive aggressively. If you don’t, you will never be able to get into a freeway or out of it. I do think I have a very good sense of direction and I used to pride myself in knowing how to get to one of Mexico’s more obscure streets, Chopo Street.
In Vancouver I soon learned the few shortcuts (usually these involve the few diagonal streets like Kingsway or Puget) driving cars from my Tilden Rent-A-Car station on Alberni to the airport, Burnaby and other Tilden locations. Before I became a little old man we used to joke and never drove on South Granville (you have to stop for little old ladies that cross the street) and we always took either Fir or Hemlock but we knew to avoid Hemlock on Sundays when there was only one lane each way as parking was permitted.
To this day I can get anywhere in Vancouver quickly because I know the routes that involve fewer traffic lights or traffic.
It is different when I try to navigate to Richmond. I am confused by streets that are numbered (Number 5 Road) and not named. In Mexico I would get lost in the city of Puebla as all streets were a big number plus poniente (west) or oriente (east). I could never adjust to that method since I would confuse oriente with poniente (but not the easier to remember este and oeste). You see I am a dyslexic and I have problems with numbers, left and right, etc.
My sense of direction is in my brain much like a birds. I know where I am going because of an inner compass. That compass is not embedded, as far as I can ascertain in anybody in my family (including my son-in-law who still gets lost after printing out a Google street map.) The only one with whom I do share the talent is my younger granddaughter Lauren. And I believe my eldest daughter Ale can navigate anywhere with precision.
Some months ago we were on Rosemary’s Cambie Street Bridge and Lauren asked me if we were going to the Vancouver Public Library (I invariably take that bridge to go there). I had to tell her that it was not the case and that we were going to the Vancouver East Cultural Centre. I go there via Beatty Street, right on the Georgia Viaduct and straight down Prior to Venables. It is quick.
Sometimes when I pick up Lauren at school she knows I always turn at VanDusen from Oak. If I keep on going (perhaps I am going to Oakridge) she will invariably and immediately ask me where we are going. Lauren knows her way around.
Rebecca is entirely another thing. She has no idea where west or east is. Forget about north and south.
Today she went on her first real date with her new friend (I have been instructed to not even mention his initial!). They left school and somehow managed to get to Rebecca’s house by bus without getting lost. There the boy had to pass inspection with Rebecca’s father and mother. From there they took an Oak Street Bus downtown. They arrived in town at two. They were keen on seeing Tron-Legacy at the Scotiabank Theatre at 3:30. At 3:15 Rebecca called home to say they were lost. It would seem that early in life Rebecca’s young man will not ask for directions. Rebecca’s father became miffed. Rebecca called again and talked to her mother. That did not help.
Hilary, Rebecca’s mother called me to tell me to call Rebecca and give her directions. Hilary (who is also a dyslexic) twice gave me Rebecca’s new cell number reversed. By the time I did get the right number Rebecca wasn’t answering.
The good thing is, that the couple arrived a bit after 3:30, and they were unaware that most films begin with long previews. Somehow they were directed to see a better film which began later, The Black Swan. I am sure that Rebecca was able to show off her knowledge of ballet and dance to the young man with the not so keen sense of direction.
After the film the couple did not know how to get back home. This involved finding the Oak Street Bus stop (not more than three blocks from where they were. They got lost and called home again.
It will be my priority to show Rebecca a compact map of the Lower Mainland and teach here about the streets and where they go. I will take her in the car and cross all the bridges and show her where she is.
I am sure that Lauren, will be thrilled!