My memory and driving are in competition to see which will become My Worst Skill. In fairness to driving, since I only do it when I’m at home, and even then only when under duress (which is normally The Mom refusing to drive so I can practice) the odds are stacked against it. Add to that the fact that I am supremely absent-minded and find being in a moving car a great way to induce sleep, I think my memory’s got a lot of catching up to do.
This past August, The Mom and I took to the road as we are wont to do when left to our own devices and when there’s good daylight to be found. We had decided to go have a look at the country property. Now, this is a place I’ve been going since I was born. The Mom cites this as a good reason why I should know how to get there by now.
But she forgets: as a child I was obviously not doing the driving, and then once I could drive, nobody thought that would be a good idea, so she kept doing it. Then once Crazy D and L’il Sis were able to drive, everyone agreed that it was better if one of them did it. I am literally the last driver selected, and if there’s a trustworthy dog around, I would not put it past my family to insist the dog drives before I get a chance. This is due to a couple of key car accidents I had as a teenager, and my apparently unnerving habit of not looking at the road and instead pointing out objects of interest.
Hence why I am normally in charge of being the passenger in the back seat (I dislike the front seat, which also makes driving problematic).
Anyhow, as I was home and we were just us, I decided that maybe doing a bit of driving would be useful. Especially since the next day I was to be driving on the highway (not the insane scary bit) and The Mom feared for her car.
Now, The Mom and I do not have a great history of car trips together. On our last trip to San Francisco, I was tasked with driving (I know not why) and The Mom with navigating (so not her best skill). Whilst we were on the freeway, The Mom would spy the relevant exit and point, Yes, there!
She would do this at the last possible moment, and then with her tiny frame in the big American car, there was no way I’d ever see her finger waving. This led to many harsh words from me, which were increased when she decided to start navigating by memory. I was livid, because I cannot do this. I can remember where I’ve been years later and how to get there by walking or public transport. But driving? There’s little to no hope.
So there we were this summer, sailing happily down a country road. And The Mom started issuing forth directions that made little sense to me. Now, as we all do to a certain extent, I have a personal geography. I remember things I’ve done and where they’ve happened. But since most of my memories of our country place involve me being asleep and then awoken when we’re either there or at home, I’ve no clue as to where we’re going. There are some patchy bits that I remember:
This is where Crazy D phoned in the middle of the night when the beasties got too loud.
This is where the covered bridge is that we took your friend from Cornwall to see.
This is the ‘Bent And Busted’.
This is the house where you’re convinced an angry old goat lives.
This is the veal fattening farm you hate.
This is where your friend saw pink elephants in the trees when you were taking things you shouldn’t have done as a teenager.
This is where Your Father stopped the car once so you could look at the ice forming on the river.
This is where your old babysitter took you so you could fling yourselves off 20-foot cliffs.
If the directions were given like this, no problem. But The Mom uses her own personal geography and since I was either asleep or not born yet, it’s not terribly helpful.
But, the good news is, we arrived there and back in one piece and didn’t even get lost once. Which I think is rather impressive given the constraints under which we were labouring.