This weekend, my husband and sons and I went to my aunt and uncle's farm. It takes one hour to get there, but we made it in two.
During the hour we were lost, I wondered: Why would anyone go someplace without knowing how to get there?
Anybody besides me, I mean.
It may sound sexist, but I think my husband should be in charge of the directions. Because there are some responsibilities I have
to take on as a woman. Like birthing the children and picking up everybody's dirty socks. So there should be a trade off.
While us ladies are sleeping off our first trimester of pregnancy and/or straightening up the house, men should study maps. Like a map of rural Miami County, for instance. Would it kill my husband to know that if you hit Wea Creek Ranch you've gone to far? Would it?
I kept these thoughts to myself as we rode along the gravel road. To the children, I pointed out an owl and a wild turkey. I politely refrained from heckling it as it crossed the road: "'Ya big turkey!"
We called my cousin for directions and he gave them to us. We opted to drive around in circles instead.
We passed cows and horses and llamas.
And a sign that said, "Stop. There is nothing ahead except farms."
The next one said, "Warning: low maintenance road. Enter at your own risk."
The final sign said, "What the hell is wrong with you? Turn your dumbasses around."
But we never got to that sign. We had already come to our senses.
Back on the main road, we saw a man, woman and boy parked on a bridge over a creek.
"Is that guy fishing?" Justin asked.
He was. With a pistol. And a budweiser. Always a good breakfast beverage.
Justin asked for directions. The guy gave them to him. But his wife shook her head.
"No, keep going until 383rd," she said.
"You'd take directions from a woman?" the man asked Justin. Which is my point exactly.
But after hearing her out, the husband agreed that her directions were better. Then he went back to trying to catch a fish. With a bullet.
The wife's directions were dead-on.
We got to the farm and had a beautiful day. The boys searched for frogs and turtles and went on a boat ride in the pond.
We realized we got lost by turning on Hedge Lane. The street rung a bell for Justin and I, so we took it. As it turned out, the road looked familiar because we'd been lost there before.
With half my family coming from Miami County, maybe I could have been in charge of the directions this time.
Because, you know, maybe men aren't any better at directions than women. For me, it's just a handy stereotype to explain why I never know where I'm going. Getting from point a to point b is a struggle.
I mean point a is easy, right? 'Cause you're already there. But point b: You can't see point b. And you don't know what roads cut through and which ones have dead ends and which ones veer off in a new direction.
Just like in life.
Only in life, we often don't even know where point b is. It's one thing to ask somebody how to get to a farm. But you can't really stop and ask, "Excuse me, do you know where I'm supposed to be right now?"
That's a question you have to ask yourself.
I had the most vivid dream while deciding whether to quit the newspaper after J.J. was born. It was a difficult decision because I liked my job and Johnny and Richie liked their childcare centers. But I really wanted to stay home with the boys.
Once a week, on the way to our newspaper meeting, I crossed a bridge over the Missouri River and, on the other side, there was a billboard of Kermit the frog that said something like: Eats flies. Loves a pig. Dreams of being a hollywood star. Follow your dreams.
I always wondered about that poster. What was it advertizing?
So one night, I dreamed that the boys were in the car with me and we came to that same bridge. Only instead of the Missouri river, there was a silver ocean. Of course I immediately thought of the undertoe and sharks. But a voice assured me that this water was safe.
My next worry was that we couldn't see the other side. What if the bridge just went on forever? Or it led to a junkyard. Or a Chucky Cheese.
Traffic was behind me and I had to make a decision. Cross the bridge or stay put.
Finally, I thought, "If the bridge itself is this beautiful, it must be very beautiful on the other side."
Actually I was more like, "This traffic is making me crazy! And now it's too late to turn around! God damn it!"
But it would have been very wise of me to say the first thing.
Anyway, I took that dream to mean that I should take a chance and quit the newspaper. Another factor: By the time I paid for three kids in daycare, I would have been losing
$800 a month. But, no, it was the dream that decided it all for me. It's much more romantic that way.
And you know, I never found out what was on the other side of that bridge. Other than Oprah's debt diet, I mean. But it has been a beautiful drive so far.
In that case, not having a point b worked out. I used to think that never having a point b was okay.
I often thought of the old saying, "When you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there."
To me, that was a promise. I was surprised when my brother told me it was actually a warning.
Now, just 31 years into my life, I can see where having a point b is a good idea. I mean, you can't just look out the window at llamas your whole life. You've got to go somewhere. Even if you're not good at directions, you have to at least try
to choose a destination and map out a route.
So I thought about it. What is my point b? And I realized it was to appear on Dancing with the Stars. Only I'm not a star. Or a dancer.
Instead, I chose something only slightly less preposterous. It's something I've always wanted to do but never thought I could. I want to write a book. Even if it's a maintenance manual on how to operate your alarm clock. I just think it would be rewarding to work on a long term project like a book. A children's science book, for instance. Or something.
It will take years to achieve, but I am going to try. That's my point b. Now, if I can just find a woman standing beside a man shooting fish in a creek, I'm sure she can tell me how to get there.