Today I had the unfortunate experience of reliving a childhood horror as an adult. I got lost. Of course we’ve all been lost at some point, even in our adults lives: trying to find the way to a remote location on some mountain roads, or renting a car on a business trip. It’s also often a good way to see a new place, just go get a little lost and walk around. Usually this does not cause too much panic and is easily resolved. Even a wrong turn to what seems like a bad part of town is pretty easy to get out of. Now we’re mobile and well connected. We carry cell phones that memorize numbers for us, gps that tells us where to go. Seldom do we feel that ‘lost’ feeling.
My memories of being lost take me directly to K-Mart. I’m not even sure if it ever really happened or if it was at K-Mart but I imagine having to go to someone that works there or a desk and ask them to page my mother. And I am probably crying. After that I am never really sure how I am received. For some reason, half of my fear of being lost is trying to explain how it all happened to the people who are (possibly) looking for you. Luckily, everything usually turns out ok but I can’t help but think that I did something wrong. What I realized today is that this is especially true as an adult.
Perhaps it’s because I should be able to take care of myself, resolve situations on my own, that I felt so foolish when it happened today. For the last two days I have been visiting parks all over the city to take photos for my work here. I have a taxi driver who drives from place to place, but is not completely familiar with where we’re going. Today I set off into a large park and asked him to meet me in-between two other parks three blocks away. I became disoriented as I walked around the park taking photos. One edge of the park twisted to the match contours of a river, the other filled some empty space in-between blocks.
I choose the meeting spot because it would be easy to recognize as the two parks were directly across the street from each other. As I left the big park and headed a couple blocks to what I thought was west I encountered some trouble finding my destination. Here I began to realize what was going to happen should I fail to find the parks. Soon, I was lost trying to figure out how to use the names of the parks I was heading for and the one number I knew to find my driver. I found several parks but not the two I was looking for as I walked back and forth between where I expected the parks and where I last saw someone I knew; stopping along the way to try and call the number. After three attempts I was able to get someone and get another number for my boss, who hired the driver. After more walking, contemplating my location and the whereabouts of my driver and pondering curiously what was being done by others involved, I eventually reached my boss on the phone. My plan was to ask her for the driver’s number but she had already talked to him, called my roommate, was driving around looking for me and (may have) called the police. Finally I met the driver back where he had dropped me off.
Walking around and searching for what may have been two hours, I never felt scared or even lost. The whole time I knew where I was in relation to where I started, I knew I could get home if it got dark, I just didn’t know where the parks were or how to call off the manhunt. The most anxious part of the experience was being found. I braced myself for a good yelling at. It never really came, but for a moment I sensed that the driver wanted to lay into me. I’m sure he (Pedro) was glad to find me and felt some relief but also I think it’s easy for people to react with anger after they’ve spent so much energy worrying about someone and everything turns out ok. Especially for something sa stupid as this. Certainly, I feel horrible for making everyone worry and panic a bit. And this is the worst part of getting lost. I’ve tried to apologize for troubling everyone but still I feel really guilty and completely incompetent. This is the part that K-Mart and today have and that a stroll around a new place doesn’t. You’re lost to others. My apologies again. If I could do it all over again (Tuesday), I’d have Perdo wait where he let me out.