East vs West

View from Dana Point
My entire life, I’ve lived on the East coast, where driving to the ocean means heading East, and driving inland means heading West. If the ocean was on my right, I knew I was driving North. On my left? I must be headed South. It was a universal truth, like gravity, or knowing my left from my right, or that the first Star Wars movie is actually the 4th in the series. Now that I am on the West coast, I have become navigationally dyslexic. At highway on-ramps, when looking at written directions, even when gazing at the beautiful Pacific ocean, I have to consciously remind myself what direction I am physically pointed in, what I have to do to get where I’m going, and I repeat like a mantra “West to the ocean, East is inland”.

I’ve made this mistake at least a dozen times. Just yesterday, when driving South from LA to San Diego, I decided to turn off the GPS, get off the 5 and onto the Pacific Coast Highway (“the PCH”), so I could drive along the ocean and see some of the coastal towns. I ended up driving North for a few minutes, until I realized “wait a second, the ocean in on my left — what’s going on?” Luckily, a Starbucks appeared in front of me at that moment, and I was able to pull in, get a grande decaf soy latte, and reorient myself. Also, I was surrounded by such natural beauty that I was glad for the detour. It gave me a chance to stop at a scenic overlook, where a gazebo and benches had been thoughtfully provided.

The benefit of getting lost here is that I discover new places, so I won’t worry about ditching my bossy GPS and winging it occasionally. It’s a chance to explore this new, beautiful world I’ve landed in.