I never meant to get lost. Well, not usually.
There are times in anyone’s life when they want to get lost and avoid an unpleasant or embarrassing situation. When you’re a teenager it usually involves the behaviour or appearance of close family members. I’d outgrown that need, partly by leaving adolescence behind me and partly by moving states, although putting unbridged water between us had seemed unnecessary.
Now I was back for a family function and I was busy getting lost on the streets I’d grown up on. In my defence I was driving a hire car with an navigation system I didn’t know how to use which was now talking to me in German, and they’d instituted a lot of No Right Turns and one way streets since I’d moved. The quick trip from my hotel to the venue wasn’t anymore and now I was four suburbs over and trying to find my way back.
This was frustrating because I’d actually wanted to go to this thing. All I could see was that my chance to impress the family with how grown up and together I was now was slowly slipping away. I was half an hour late and I was getting later. In desperation I turned left and pulled over. There was no manual for the German gibbering GPS navigator and repeatedly pressing the blue button just changed it to French, Italian, Russian, Japanese then Chinese from which it refused to budge. Naturally I spoke none of these languages. There was no paper street directory in the glove box but it wasn’t supposed to need one because it had a GPS navigator.
All the options that might get me to the family do before the speeches and champagne involved abandoning the car until morning. I wrote down where I was, checked that it was all right to park there overnight, got out, locked the car and went back to the main road for a taxi. Even someone who knew where they were going took over half an hour to get back to the venue.
The fire engines didn’t help.
There’d been a phone call, no-one had been hurt, and the party hadn’t happened at all. Everyone was thrilled when I showed up at my grandparents’ house, if I’d been on time I would have driven into the underground car park just as it blew up. We celebrated my cousin’s engagement and that I wasn’t lost all together in one big bash. Took us all weekend.