Whenever I catch an episode of The Amazing Race, I cannot help but marvel as the contestants successfully decipher maps and traverse faraway places simply by following clues. I, on the other hand, will need a very detailed outline just to get from my house to NAIA. And even then, there is only a fifty-percent chance I will get there without mishap.
I do not exaggerate. I am literally a lost soul.
When I hitch home with friends to our Makati condo after a gimmick, I get so embarrassed because it means inadvertently sending them on a wild goose ride through the metropolis.
When I was in my dating years and going out with different boys, I always dreaded the part when they had to take me home to Parañaque. This was not because I was past my curfew, but because I was anxious about giving incorrect directions and ending up in the wrong village. For it has happened. And although it wasn’t too bad when I found myself lost (an ironic phrase, that) with someone great and gorgeous since it meant spending more time together, it was plain awful when I was stuck with someone totally repugnant.
During my working days, I would get lost going to and from my office – even if I pass the same way each day and even if my husband had already painstakingly created a sketch resplendent with drawings of landmarks to help me find my way. While managing eight shops located in different malls throughout the country, I frequently got waylaid during branch visits. Not only did I get lost on the way to the malls, I also became lost in them. I would go up and down floors, frenetically weaving my way from shop to shop, getting all dizzy and sweaty until I finally had no choice but to swallow my pride and call on my trusty store employees for guidance.
When I was eight months pregnant, I once hailed a cab in order to go to Makati Medical Center for my monthly check-up. When I told the taxi driver where to take me, he asked me what the best way to get there was. My mind went blank and I had to call my husband from my celfone so he could dictate the directions to the cabbie. After the call, the mystified driver asked me if I was new to the Philippines. And being as discomfited as I was, I said yes! Lest he probe further, I pretended to be intent on a phone conversation with an imaginary friend until I finally reached the hospital.
My husband cannot comprehend how someone who holds the titles of Valedictorian and Magna Cum Laude could be so geographically inept. He has gone from martyr-like patience to sheer annoyance, from fatherly concern to blistering rage, from utter disbelief to profound acceptance at my non-existent sense of direction. But what truly gets his goat is when I have the gall to insist that I know the way when I don’t. At times, I can give instructions so commandingly that the most street-savvy are made to hesitate, buckle and rethink their mental roadmap….only to find themselves suddenly adrift with me in Road Purgatory.
Frankly, I have no bright explanations. All I know is that when I am in a vehicle on my way to somewhere, I get so preoccupied thinking about everything and nothing. I make a mental list of stuff I need to do when I reach my desired location. I stare intently at the children selling sampaguitas in the corner and I wonder about them, where their parents are and how they can still afford to smile so brightly. I pay attention to the lyrics of the songs playing in the stereo. I check in the rearview mirror if my lipstick is applied perfectly. When someone is with me in the car, I talk and I listen. Often, I laugh. Sometimes, I pray. When my husband is driving, I like to hold his hand. When our baby is in the backseat, I make faces at him and giggle.
I get so incredibly wrapped up in the moment, I end up forgetting how I’m going to get to my targeted destination. Anyhow, in the end, I know in my gut I’ll still manage to get to where I want to be, one way or another.
Thus, I remain lost. And happily so.