Finding My Way Home
It may or not be obvious that I have just moved. I am now living in an area I am totally unfamiliar with and hence getting around has been a bit of an adventure. Having checked bus times and bus stops, I ventured into town to do some shopping – no problem, quite straight forward – and as it was bucketing down with rain, thankfully caught the next bus back.
Making sure I caught the right bus I watched the passing houses and countryside with interest, keeping an eye out for anything familiar which would give me a clue as to where to get off. I had been told the bus was on a loop to the town centre, so was not really concerned about getting lost.
However, thanks to a helpful young lad who had overheard my conversation with the driver, I was informed that my stop was next. Negotiating the various pushchairs, trolleys and shopping bags, all dripping wet, I managed to get off the bus. I put my brolly up, even though it was determined to turn inside out at every gust of wind. Then I picked up my shopping and glanced around me…..
Where on earth was I? Nothing looked familiar, the road seemed too countrified and a bit isolated. Nothing but trees and bushes and a few houses here and there, but nothing at all resembling my home or anything near my home. I was at a loss which way to walk, but then spied the name of the road I was looking for and concluded I must be at another section of it, because this was not right.
By this time the rain was torrential and the wind nearly knocking me off my feet. I was in danger of doing a Mary Poppins and the struggle with the brolly and the shopping was exhausting. I looked around and decided that I should just follow the lane with the same name as the road I needed.
After walking (well, being blown) along the dirt track, passing a playground and what looked like a park, I came across a small development of houses. An old lady was leaving her car and heading my way, obviously heading home. I stopped her and asked if this was indeed the road I needed. Having lived in her house, left to her by her mother who died in 1970, and who caused a row in her family because her siblings got nothing and her sister’s husband wanted to take matters further, I managed to find out that she had no idea if I was on the right road, but she suggested I might carry on anyway as she guessed it led to a main road eventually where I could ask someone else.
She began to tell me that after 40 odd years she really should walk up the road a bit and see what was there, but what with looking after her grand-kids after school, and then getting dinner and doing all the usual chores, she had never really had chance or time to go and look around much. I was totally soaked to my skin by this time and she was looking like someone had thrown a bucket of water all over her, even though she had no raincoat or brolly, she seemed to be happy to natter and getting soaked seemed not to bother her.
I nodded and looked hopefully in the direction I wanted to go and moved away from her, but she followed me and continued to chat. I was getting so cold I could feel my shoulders begin to shake and I said several times that I must be going now, and thanks for the chat. Yet still she chatted. Eventually I just moved away quickly and waved merrily to her and left her still chatting to me, but I could not hear a word over the howling gale and the noise of the rain all around me. As I looked back before I followed the road round a bend, she was still there waving and I swear she was still chatting.
Onwards I walked, battling against the heavy gusts, working hard at remaining upright and on the dirt road. Nothing hinted at whether or not I was on the right track, more trees and greenery lined the narrow road which was now more like a little lane, there were few houses or signs of life. Even the birds had decided to leave venturing out to those with webbed feet – and I had a feeling I was going to have them soon enough!
Another ten or fifteen minutes later and I watched a car reverse out of a driveway but the occupants were too intent on their conversation to notice me, probably why they didn’t bother to avoid the huge puddle next to me which they drove through splashing me so heartily that my raincoat pockets filled with muddy water and any dry underwear I might still have had was now soaking wet as well.
Good afternoon to you too, I thought. Well, actually I didn’t think that, but I am too polite to print it here exactly what I did mutter under my breath.
I shook myself down, adjusted the brolly, changed my shopping bags around from one hand to the other, and resolutely carried forth in the general direction of the ever narrowing lane. In the distance I thought I saw signs of someone coming towards me, but the light was really bad and the shadows of the trees blowing back and forth didn’t help me – I am short sighted and have an astigmatism too – as I peered into the gloom. But yes, at last I spied a hooded figure stooped and hunched against the rain heading towards me. Suddenly the figure looked up and stopped and stared at me for a long long time…well it seemed a long time. I wondered about being alone in such an isolated place – was I going to be mugged? I took a deep breath and walked right up to the figure.
The teenage boy looked up at me in surprise as I said hello and what dreadful weather it was and did he have any idea how far it was to the main road and where I live? Get in there first I decided. He looked relieved that I had spoken and it occurred to me just then that perhaps he had been worried about meeting me in a lonely spot!
I smiled broadly, mascara probably streaked down my face, hair askew and looking like a drowned rat, and tried to look as normal as possible. He smiled back and gave me directions to my new home. Thank God! I thanked the lad and strode off, causally glancing back to make sure he had gone on and was not doubling back to thrust a knife in my back or wind a piece of wire round my neck. He was shuffling along, head down still heading the way I had come. Big sigh of relief.
Well, another five or six minutes later I found the main road and from there I could see my new home. I could also see the bus stop where I should have got off the bus, had not a young man been helpful and told me where my stop was.
Every time I have ventured out since then I have studiously watched the bus stops pass as I keep checking for landmarks to help me find the right stop, enabling me to find my way home.