A Thomas Guide I bought 15 years ago still sits in my trunk as I refuse to give in to technology and buy a Tom Tom or any other navigation system for my wanderings. I hopelessly lack a sense of direction and mercifully Los Angeles is half surrounded by mountains that inform me if I am veering off course. I realize that the soothing voice of the lady advising me to turn left or right or getting mad because I didn’t follow her advice would cut down on time lost figuring out where the hell I am and how I can get out of the driving mess I often find myself in.
Typically, if I am planning to go somewhere I have never been before, I will consult Google map and chart the course. But have you noticed how often those directions are wrong? Looking for a Chinese Restaurant in the San Gabriel Valley I knew something was amiss when Google sent me to somebody’s house and I had to backtrack for miles.
I believe getting lost can be an art form, especially for someone like me, who tends to be in control at any given time. It’s decidedly easier to get lost when on vacation, when time matters less and the days are not as carefully constructed. There are places where getting lost is a must, like the alleyways of Arab Jerusalem, the Venetian calles, Florence’s center but, really, anyplace will do. Driving back to LA and looking for food, I got off the freeway in some forsaken place called Baker, a monument to American ingenuity – a three block town where even chickens appeared to be out of work, the tallest thermometer stands proud in the center of the main street – god knows what the marketing ploy was behind the idea but hats off to whoever thought to ameliorate the place in any way possible. But wandering around Baker I came across the Mad Greek, a Greek restaurant – well, restaurant being too fancy a word to describe an oversize white and blue shack adorned with white Greek sculptures, Mykonos posters and vinyl banquettes. The food was decent and cheap and what I wouldn’t have expected at the edge of the desert and I wouldn’t have found had I settled for a gas station snack.
Sometimes I wish I could get lost in life a little more to keep the door open for what the wind might bring in, instead of keeping the reins tight and programming every last minute of my day. That is why I am resisting navigation instruments and tom toms – I just don’t need another “female voice” telling me how to get there.