…tell a story from your life that reveals how old you might be.
That was a challenge I read somewhere and this story came to mind.
For the first few years after my first divorce, my ex husband and I had split custody. He had the kids during the school year and I had them in the summer. At that time, he lived in Long Island, New York, and I lived in Virginia Beach Virginia. I would drive up to get them around mid-June and bring the home at the end of the summer. Now, to get to Long Island from Virginia Beach was about an 8 to 9 hour drive, depending on the route I’d take and which highway I chose. I, personally, liked to take the scenic route, which was quieter, but also longer. How long it took to get there also depended on time of day and what kind of construction would be going on (because there was always construction). I like to drive at night — fewer people on the road and whatnot. So I’d leave sometime about midnight, get there in the morning, gather the kids, and drive back. All in all, I’d being on the road for about 16 hours. What can I say? I liked to drive. This wasn’t too much of a problem picking them up because they’d be in the car to keep me awake driving back to Virginia, but whenever I’d take them home, I’d usually have to catch a nap at a rest stop… Even I get tired after 13 some odd hours on the road. ^_^
So anyway this story takes place on one of my trips back to Long Island to drop the kids off. There’s a bridge one must cross to get to the Long Island Expressway (or LIE) — actually there are several, but I can’t remember which one I took for this particular trip — and there are two exits on that bridge, one will take you to the LIE and the other will take you to downtown New York City (or NYC). I took the wrong exit and ended up in NYC, in the Bronx I think. I don’t remember, it was a while ago. This was the first time I’d ever been to New York City proper, and it was pretty overwhelming at first. Let me tell you something, dear reader, New York City is loud. Very loud. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, but if one is not used to it, it can be overwhelming. I nearly panicked from all of the noise and traffic, but, you know what? I had kids to get to their dad’s. So I took a few deep breaths and I drove about for a bit hoping to find a sign or something that would point me toward the LIE. No such luck. I just kept driving in big circles. There were a lot of one-way streets! It was scary! I did catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty — which we could see from the bridge we crossed that ended us up in this mess, so I was hopeful. Ha!
After I’d driven around for a while, I started to get anxious again because I didn’t want to get *more* lost than I already was. I mean normally I’m all about getting lost and taking in the sights. That’s kind of my thing. I like to do that. But in this case, I’d already been driving for eight hours, and I still had an eight hour drive back to Virginia. I mean, I had to go to work the next day and all. And the kids’ dad was waiting on us… Blah blah blah. The kids obviously wouldn’t know where to go, I mean, they were way too young to ask them how to get to Long Island from NYC, and driving in circles wasn’t doing me any good. So I did the next best thing, I rolled down my windows, waited for red lights, and just started asking random people for directions. I had many conversations that went something like this:
Me: Excuse me! Can you tell me how to get to the LIE.?
Random stranger: Okay, you go down to the next light and take a right. okay? Then you gotta go down two more streets to the next red light and take a left. Turn right at the store with the blue seats in front and then go down to Baker Street… you gettin’ this?… Good. Now, after Baker street, you’ve gotta…. (…and that’s where I’d lose them or the light would turn)
Me: Thank you!
Three streets later…
Me: Excuse me! Can you tell me how to get to the LIE?
Random stranger: Sure! Drive down to the next light and take a left…
Lather. Rinse. Repeat. It was a slow process to be sure, but it wasn’t long before we made it to the LIE and I knew my way from there. New Yorkers had a reputation back then of being rude, but I didn’t think they were rude, they just spoke quickly. Very quickly, and with a thick accent. Which is why I let them speak, thanked them, and then followed their directions as far as I could before I asked the next person. Not one person told me to get lost or said one rude thing to me. Some people ignored me, but so what? No one was obligated to give me directions. They have their own lives to live and maybe they didn’t know. I just asked the next person.
So, how does this reveal my age? Well, dear reader, if you, yourself, are of a certain age, you might be nodding your head along with this story because you might have been in a similar situation — lost and asking strangers for directions. However, if you are of a certain age or younger, you could probably be thinking to yourself, Why didn’t she just call her first husband and ask him for directions? Because the idea of being without a phone of any kind might be an alien concept. I know this, because I related this story at a get together some years ago, and someone in the group of people listening to me asked me that very question. And this was well over five years ago. That person was in their twenties at the time. And I’m not saying this in a disparaging way. When something is as ubiquitous as cell phones are these days, it’s difficult to imagine that there was a time without them. And if you, dear reader, are even younger than the person who asked me that question five years go, you might be asking: Why didn’t she just use her smart phone look it up on the map? because again, it’s very difficult to imagine that there was a time when we wandered the world without the aid of our map apps. But we did. And we got lost. And getting lost, dear reader, sometimes that was part of the adventure.
So those who read this blog know how old I am (52) but telling that particular memory reveals that I am — at the very least — older than cell phones. Ha! Cell phones have been around since the 1990’s and that, dear reader is almost thirty years. Okay… technically cell phones have been around since the 1970’s but they became pervasive in the mid to late 1990’s. My story takes place around mid 90’s, just as they were starting to become popular. I mean, I couldn’t afford a cell phone at the time. I think beepers were all the rage during the time of this story. Remember beepers? They didn’t last long. So yeah, before cell phone. I can even shock and amaze people by saying that the majority of my childhood was before the internet. and even *gasp* before cable television. We had, like, three channels — five if the UHF antenna picked anything up. I remember when cable TV came out. No commercials was its selling point. I wonder what happened to that? One of the reasons why I don’t watch television anymore is because of the asinine commercials. There are so many and the breaks are so long that I often forgot what show I was watching. That’s not fun for me, and life is way too short, dear reader, for that kind of not fun. I mean, watching television is supposed to be an escape from reality, a way to relax — not an exercise in frustration because of stupid commercials. So yeah, I stopped watching it. And, I have no idea where that rant came from, so I’ll stop there. ^_^
So anyway, that’s a random challenge that I don’t remember where I got it from but thought I’d do it anyway because why not? I hope you enjoyed my little story. See ya!