Lost and Found

On the first day of 2014, I drove to the grocery store and back without getting lost. It was the first time I had done so since moving to this new town in October—usually a trip there and back had resulted in at least one wrong turn, one moment of reaching for the OnStar button in my car, one moment of I have no memory of this place. Am I still on Earth? I had kind of accepted it.

When I posted about this spectacular feat on Facebook, several family members responded with congratulatory messages: “We’re so proud of you!” “Good job, Amy!” “We knew you could do it!”

We celebrate small victories.

I can do a lot of things, but going somewhere without getting lost at least once is apparently not one of them.

I don’t know what’s to blame for this character trait, but it probably has something to do with the fact that as a kid, I spent every car ride in the backseat with my face in a book, oblivious to the world around me. When I got my driver’s license, I could barely get out of my hometown. I’ve gotten better since then, but barely. I get in the car to go somewhere I’ve been a thousand times before, and then somehow I end up in the wrong neighborhood, on a winding country road, or just generally in the middle of nowhere. I try to embrace it. Like they say on the bumper sticker: Sometimes the journey is the reward.

Sometimes getting lost helps you remember the beauty of the where you live. Once I found three old cemeteries and an abundance of quaint country churches on a beautiful fall day after taking a wrong turn in the middle of Ohio. Another time I ended up taking an accidental tour of Pittsburgh at two in the morning, cruising through Lawrenceville and Bloomfield and then somehow ending up downtown, where the bright lights from theater marquees made it look like midday as their reflections glittered on the snowy sidewalks. I had to see the city while everyone was sleeping to understand its inherent charm.

For a while I worked in southern Kentucky, and there were many spring and summer mornings when I unintentionally discovered rolling hillsides, dilapidated farm houses, a fish hatchery, so many river lakes, and once, a small-town library book sale. During one trip I cruised past a trailer with a big-screen television parked on the front porch and the door wide open. Some horses grazed nearby.

I eventually got where I was supposed to be going.

Even when the road seems too winding and you can’t see the end goal, if you take your time and pray for the best, thing usually work out.

I am always getting lost.

But that’s okay, because there’s a lot to be found.