I have spacial dyslexia. Now admittedly, this is a term I made up out of the need to give credibility to my lifelong malady, but it seems a concise term to explain this legitimate handicap.
Oh God. My white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel is so tight that I think maybe I’ll rip it right off its axis and force the car to drive in the right direction. I’m hysterical. It’s that crazy woman on the highway, hysterical. I see my fellow Texas drivers evacuating the area, avoiding me. I’ve seen it before — parting the hairs of the highway to leave bald spots between me and the other cars.
I’m lost. Again.
I find an exit, a gas station, and a phone. I call my husband. I tell him I’m by that four-story building with the blue stripe across the top. I tell him that across the street there’s a Texaco station next to a McDonald’s. He’s not recognizing the landmarks I’m giving him.
Now I’m shouting into the phone: “I’m by the place we had lunch that day. You know, the one with the good salads.”
My voice is shaky, and my hands smell metallic from the keys that have been melting in my sweaty palms. “Just tell me how to get home. Why can’t you just tell me how to get home?”
He tells me to go find another person, any other human being, and ask them to come to the phone to tell him where I am.
That was me. That was 15 years ago, and 20 years ago, and 30 years ago. I have spacial dyslexia. Now admittedly, this is a term I made up out of the need to give credibility to my lifelong malady, but it seems a concise term to explain this legitimate handicap.
When I was 16, I got lost going to the DMV to get my first driver’s license. I’ve been getting lost ever since.
In school, algebra was a breeze. If you know the formula, you know how to solve the equation. Trigonometry, that was another story. “Picture the triangle on a plane in space,” the teacher would say. For me, that’s like telling a woman to pee in a public stall without toilet paper: It can be done, but it will take a lot of time and a lot of patience.
I used to carry spiral-bound laminated maps of the entire city displaying how to get from one neighborhood to the next, but I couldn’t read them. They just collected my dripping sweat as I stared at them.
Who needs a sense of direction these days?
But then a miracle came along: the Internet. I punched in how to get from home to my first destination, from my first to my second, to my third, and back home. I had turn-by-turn directions every day before I left my front door.
This worked well for me until the day that my trip to point “B” was canceled, and I had to figure out how to get from point “A” to point “C”. When people said you can’t get there from here, I took it literally.
Then another miracle came along: GPS. I was the first bozo standing in line to plunk down $700 of my hard-earned money to purchase the first generation of one of these contraptions. I don’t mind when the little lady in the box tells me “When possible, make a legal U-turn.” I may have missed the turn, but at least now I know I missed it just 30 seconds later. All I have to do is make a “legal U-turn,” and I’m home free.
Don’t even ask me about the day last month when my old GPS died on me in the middle of a busy day. (Ok, you can ask me.) I felt that crazy-woman-on-the-highway hysteria welling up in my chest. I pulled over and called my husband in that shaky voice of the late last century. Then I used my smartphone to jump start my way home.
The very next day, I exuberantly plunked down $70 for my brand-new traffic warning GPS with all the bells and whistles. And when she whistles, it sounds like laughter to me. When I pulled off the road this time, it was the funny-ha-ha kind of hysterical.
In 2014, some people may have resolved to limit their use of technology, but I will not be limiting mine.