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month 2 = blue

July 8, 2011

We’re already a few days into it, so it is high time I welcomed you to Month 2 of my Chasing Maybes project, during which I will stumble through unmapped Geography territory.  For those of you who are visual learners, I’m looking to add a blue wedge to my Trivial Pursuit pie.

from makefive.com

Before I say anything else on the topic, I’m compelled to share that the entire category of geography, from my point of view, feels like one big Chasing Maybe.

I’m a miserable map reader.  In the past, the innocent question, “Why don’t you sit in the front seat and navigate while I drive?” has filled me with dread.  On these occasions, my car sickness became an advantageous escape route — unable to read in the car without heaving,  I didn’t have to expose myself as an orienteering idiot.  Google maps, and later mobile GPS units, have saved me from this indignity and will forever have my undying devotion.

While in college, I underwent some career and aptitude testing.  When presenting me with my abysmal performance on the spatial relations section of the test, the evaluator suddenly paused, gravely looking up from her computer print out.  “How do you get around in the world?” she asked, brow knitted in concern.  I think my spatial relations score might have been the lowest she’d seen, and I’m pretty sure she later walked me from the building to my car, insuring I safely traversed the parking lot.  [My deficiency also extends to dishwasher-loading and trunk-packing, but those are stories for another day.]

At any rate, I’m the person who always points the wrong way when giving directions.  I’m the one who says things like, “We went up to Texas” when traveling from North Carolina.  I can memorize shapes on a globe, but I’m challenged by the logistics of traveling from one point to the other.  Numbered streets thrill me, and I thoroughly depend on landmarks.  I’ve adjusted to my limitations.

Anyway, Monday was a holiday, which had zero influence on my preschool-aged children’s early waking times.  Because the family was up already, my husband suggested we go have breakfast at Elmo’s, a rare treat.  For the uninitiated, Elmo’s is a casual diner that serves an excellent breakfast.  The same hostess has greeted us there for the past ten years.  We avoid going there on weekends, however, because it is perpetually stuffed with people, and any time spent waiting for a table with aforementioned preschool-aged children is excruciating.

On this day, though, Elmo’s was blissfully quiet.  After gorging ourselves on blueberry pancakes and veggie sausage, we wandered down Durham’s Ninth Street, peeking in boutique windows and musing about the landscape of revolving restaurants.

When the kids had tired of wandering, we drove to the Woodcroft section of the Tobacco Trail for some bike-riding.  Brightly colored helmets strapped to their little heads, my boys rolled along the trail, stopping to pick up a shiny rock here or study a beetle there.

It was a beautiful day, and as I watched my youngest child lean over a dandelion, I suddenly realized that we had just unintentionally visited our two previous neighborhoods in Durham.

When we first moved to North Carolina, we lived in a little 1940’s cottage just blocks from Elmo’s diner.  I can’t count how many hours we spent — childless then — ambling the aisles of the Regulator Bookshop, drinking mojitos at Blue Corn Cafe, laughing with friends at George’s Garage.  Later, we moved to the Woodcroft neighborhood, whose trails I wore out trying to soothe my colicky older son.  Motion calmed him, and it seemed the only way to get him to sleep was by pushing him in his stroller or walking while I wore him in a carrier.  During his first months of life, those trails saved my sanity.

Like my son, I find motion calming.

During this month’s walk through Geography, there will be lots of motion.  There will be movement through revolving landscapes.  There will be feet on pavement and furniture on trucks.  There might even be a surprise visitor or two, so I hope you will keep showing up as I try to get my bearings (“Which way is Austin again?”).

It won’t be easy, but what adventure is?

Wherever you are headed today, I hope it is along a colorful trail.  Thanks, as always for showing up.

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