August 09, 2005


I am so horrible with directions, it is downright shameful.

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 ParaƱaque. 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.


Jennifer said...

Well, if everyone from Kerouac to Steinbeck are to be believed, it's really all about the journey rather than the destination anyway. Besides, I wouldn't dream of trading in the laughs we have in the car (especially when Niccolo joins us) for a good set of directions. I'll just make sure I have a roadmap of Manila within easy reach next time we all go out to dinner ;-)

Margarita said...

Hey ate irene!!

Don't worry, it's gotta be in the genes!! hehe I can't go to any place w/o calling for mommy or carms! What am I gonna do in France alone? hehe I think the "UN-LOST" genes skipped us! once i find a cure i'll let u know hehe!! but it's fun getting lost coz that's when u meet interesting people and see amaizing places!
mwah! marga