I was driving home from the gym, my thoughts on other things. Mostly, I was worrying over my last conversation with my father. He had forgotten to secure a ride for his upcoming doctor appointment. He had also forgotten to mail me a letter I had asked for half a dozen times, and he had lost his debit card. Again.
None of this was too out of the ordinary. Worrisome, yes, but it had been going on a long time. Compared with other moments like, forgetting whether he took his medications, that he was smoking before he fell asleep, or to turn off the stove, I couldn’t complain.
Still, it left me, as always, unsettled; wondering if he really shouldn’t be in some type of care facility. I knew he wasn’t capable of living alone, even with the home health aide coming in daily. He knew it as well, but that didn’t stop him from fighting on threat of his life to remain independent.
It was a lose, lose battle for both us, and one so exhausting and old that my brain moved on, remembering that I needed to pick up the dry cleaning and calculating whether I had enough time for the supermarket before school let out. Suddenly, I looked around and realized I didn’t recognize where I was.
I had driven this seven minute route to and from the gym, hundreds of times. How could I possibly not know where I was? I certainly wasn’t far, ten blocks at most. Yet, it all looked unfamiliar. Did I not take the right turn? There were only three or four turns to take. Where was I?
I panicked, gazing around at the lovely overhanging trees, trying to place my surroundings, and drawing a complete blank.
On instinct, I made a U-turn and headed back in the direction I came. Before I even reached the first intersecting block, I knew exactly where I was. On the right road. Of course.
I turned the car back around again, and almost laughed out loud at my senior moment. I was so distracted, I had lost my bearings on a block I had traveled hundreds of times.
I made the next left and headed the next few blocks till I made another right, traveled five more blocks and pulled in my driveway. Home.
I put the car in park and felt ridiculously relieved and slightly shaken. It was frightening not being able to trust your instincts. It immediately brought me back to my father.
Every day, he loses his train of thought, his focus, his time. Every day we argue about things beyond our control. Because it’s one thing to lose your way, but another to lose yourself.