perpetually lost near and far
Published: Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 23:09
I was born without a sense of direction. This is a problem when you throw yourself into foreign countries. A taxi can solve being physically lost, but being culturally lost is more challenging.
Between the two, I was basically lost for 10 years—five years overseas and then the five years I’ve been back navigating my college career. Like many five-year plus students, I’ve had trouble finding my path.
Lost has become my normal. I often don’t know where I’m going or even where I want to go. I’ve gotten good at paying attention and going with the flow, skills that were very useful as I hopped from bus to bus across country ides.
Those buses can get quite full in places like Guatemala. People keep piling in and the aisles become stationary mosh pits. Time spent in those sweaty spaces is often increased by the most illogical routes. Sometimes it seems the drivers want to cover every inch of the country before reaching their destination.
On a trip from Rio Dulce to Antigua I traveled in one of these pits next to a friendly old man in a neatly pressed shirt and a cowboy hat. He kept smiling at me and trying to talk to me until my poor Spanish dissolved the conversation into gestures and nods.
Suddenly the bus stopped and everyone ducked. Distracted by the gun-wielding police officers outside, I didn’t realize I was sticking out for more than my complexion.
When I looked over, the old man was laughing and waving frantically for me to get down. Once I ducked the bus resumed its rambling pace.
I never knew why the sudden game of Simon Says. I guessed that it was illegal to stand on a bus and ducking was a way around that.
I was confused as always, which hasn’t changed. Until last year I didn’t know my major and even now it seems like pure chance that I get any closer to graduation. Like when I was traveling, I still don’t know all the rules and I don’t always feel like I’m driving.