On Sunday, Aimee texted me randomly and asked me to do something. I was sitting on the couch reading the Sunday New York Times. It was one of those lonely mornings and just her hello brought tears to my eyes — simply because I needed it so.
She dared me to get lost, to really wander and to eventually ask someone for directions. I loved the thought, but I had all of these grown up things to do — make an outing to the bank, print up tax documents at Kinko’s, buy groceries at the farmer’s market, mail packages at the post office. And afterwards, I would go to the Seattle Art Fair — because, even though I usually hate going and find the fairs depressing, it seemed like the right thing to do.
When Aimee sent me her suggestion, it immediately made me think of junior high and my friend Elizabeth Osborne. We used to get massievly lost on purpose. It was our favorite game, before everyone had GPS devices in their pockets. We wanted the exhilaration of it, the joy of finally finding our way back, the relief.
One of the best memories I have is of being totally lost in Sam Houston National Forest. I was in the midst of a break-up so bad that I no longer knew myself. I forgot what I liked and what I didn’t. I forgot how to exist completely.
And my first love Matt and my dear friend Paul offered to take me on a hike and geocaching adventure. Both of the guys were former Boy Scouts. Paul actually taught a class on how to use GPS — and had one of the devices before they were part of our cell phones. He brought his GPS device along — but forgot to mark our point of entry.
We wandered for hours deep into the forest, and as it became almost dusk, we realized we had no idea where we were. The guys mentioned the almost inevitable possibility of sleeping in the forest, but we pushed on as night began to fall. Eventually, we found barbed wire and trampled fearfully — and gratefully — across a farmer’s pasture. We emerged way further up the road than we had parked.
Luckily, a quick call to my dad (who just celebrated his 71st birthday today) yielded a ride back to the truck. We were worn out and exhausted — but adrenaline rushed, thankful and for me, what was the best part of the experience, actually lost and saved. It completely mirrored how I felt — lost emotionally — and there I was physically and literally forgotten in time and space — and our ability to make it home gave me hope.
So on Sunday, when I finally headed to the Seattle Art Fair, I realized that I had mapped the location incorrectly — and I had no idea where I was. I wandered for quite a while, then found a nice couple and asked for directions. It made me smile to know that Aimee’s instructions were coming into play exactly as she had detailed.
I felt worn out, but I was accomplishing my assigned task. On my way home, I stopped for a glass of champagne at one of my favorite spots, Barnacle. This guy named Paolo sat next to me and confided that it was his first night in the city as a transplant to Seattle from Minneapolis. He seemed so exuberant, hopeful, full of energy and possibility. I think I was that way a year ago. I swallowed my bitterness, my reserve, my worries about my own decisions. And I said cheers, this is wonderful, this is an adventure — and I wished him all my best before heading home, telling someone exactly what I needed to hear, feeling lost still in so many ways and yet wanting to impart a feeling of hope.