Tuesday, October 11, 2011

on the virtues of getting lost

I am told our family first started vacationing on Hilton Head in 1969. One of the greatest things about coming here year in, year out, is the reliable promise of getting lost. It’s not that big an island, and we only stick to one end of it. You’d think after 40 years, we would have figured it out. But where’s the fun in that? I particularly remember the time we didn’t make it onto the island until after sunset, and we spent an extra twenty minutes looping hopelessly around various traffic circles in the dark (there are no streetlights), trying to find the house that um, we’ve been staying in since we were like, ten years old.

Even better than the roads, there are something like 17 miles of bike paths winding through a magical combination of loblolly pines, sweetgum, live oaks dripping with spanish moss, and saw palmetto. Getting lost on the bike paths is the signature experience of a day well spent.

The problem is, though, that I’ve spent quite a chunk of time on Hilton Head in the past couple of years. My Sainted Mother has started spending the month of March down here, and generously invited me (her lone east coast child) down two times. And then there’s the every-other-October time that we all (sibs and associated spousal units) come down here as well. Plus, a year and a half ago, Sainted Mother experienced a health crisis while she was down here which necessitated her hospitalization. Since I was in the middle of my extended goofing off period, it was no problem for me to come down and help her out. I was here all told for several weeks.

The net result of which is that sadly, the road-and-bike-path configurations got welded into my brain. Gone are the days when I have to struggle to remember how the three traffic circles all connect to each other. How to get to the Forest Preserve? Check. Even the ace-in-the-hole – the pre-Civil War ruins constructed of oyster shell cement that each year, lured various aunts, uncles, and cousins to a Bermuda Triangle of hopeless confusion – sigh. I can find my way there blindfolded at this point.

Sucks to grow old.

But today, I am happy to report, I got the teensiest bit of lost, TWICE!! The first time was with Kevin on a bike ride. We took a side trail of a side trail and then, hallelujah, the trail petered out on a road that doesn’t have a bike path next to it, and hooray, I didn’t know where I was! And I took a wrong turn! And was mistaken about where we were! And we had to backtrack! It was AWESOME!

And then I went and got take-out tonight, because everyone else around here wanted to eat sea larvae for dinner (by which I mean shrimp – the only thing worse than sea larvae is giant sea cockroaches (lobster)), and I took a shortcut home, and wound up – YESSS!!!! – on a dead-end street I didn’t recognize. It was awesome.

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