The Solo Adventure of a Geographically Challenged Mom

I always used to say “If you get lost with a friend, it’s an adventure. To get lost by yourself would be scary.”

Earlier this week, I was sent to Toronto for training…by myself. For a girl with absolutely no sense of direction and little observation, this was a giant step outside my comfort zone. Clearly I needed to accept that the time had come for me to REALLY live by my own words.

Traveling by train was great! The view was stunning and lucky for me, I had a window seat! A few cities into my trip, a woman sat beside me. We hit it off instantly, sharing our love of books and some personal stories. I thoroughly enjoyed our visit and thought to myself “what a great way to start my adventure.”

At 10pm, I reached Toronto. I followed everyone in front of me hoping for the best. Taxis were waiting outside…Bonus! As I jumped in, horns were honking, cars were so tight together, swerving to miss each other. My driver is speaking a different language probably to shield me from hearing his words meant for the other drivers. I asked if it was always like this. He burst out laughing saying “rush hour is over. The streets are bare!”

I stayed at the Delta Chelsea, the hotel was GORGEOUS and they had upgraded me to a suite! SWEET!

The next morning I decided things were going so well, I’d walk to the training center. It should have taken no more than 1o mins. and I’d left a half hour early just in case. With my mapquest printout in hand, I set out on my way. The sights, the people, the buildings, the rush of the city, I took everything in. I couldn’t make any sense of the map, so I started stopping people on the street, asking them for directions. Everyone was so nice. It was easy to see the appeal of big city living.

Panic started to set in when I realized the address I had been looking for led me to an old boarded up building. Taking the Mapquest print out of my pocket, I asked a small group of youth sitting outside the building if this was were I was supposed to be. They laughed and said “this is the right address, but I don’t think this is where you’re supposed to be”. Time to call work back home.

Yep, I had the wrong address and I’m now late for my training! Time to hail a taxi! Having lived in a small town my entire life, this was something new. As I gave the driver the address, I realized my training was being held on the same street as my hotel! How could I possibly have gotten so lost!

After my workshop, I felt a renewed sense of confidence as I headed out to return to my hotel. I noticed things were looking very different than they had in the morning. There were people begging for change, the streets and sidewalks were congested with people, the cars were beeping and everything was rushed. My heart was sinking for the people I realized may very well spend a night without a meal. I wanted to find a coffee shop, somewhere I could stop and pick  up some food for these people so many were trying to ignore. I started to wonder, why hadn’t I passed any coffee shops? Why hadn’t I noticed these dark passageways on my way this morning? No one was making eye contact, people were shouting across the streets, everyone’s eyes were fixed forward. They were so rushed, some of them running. Panic was starting to set in. I knew I was lost. Finally I caught up to a young woman and asked her to point me in the right direction. For a spit second, she considered ignoring me, but she met my eyes and said “You are not where you want to be. You need to go back to where you started and ask someone for directions from there.” I didn’t want to go back, I didn’t want to keep moving forward. I wanted another cab and there were none to be found.

Eventually I made my way back to the hotel.

In the morning, I decided I wasn’t taking any chances. I had a train to catch after my workshop and I couldn’t be late for that. I packed my luggage and hopped into a cab. My driver dropped me off and I entered the wrong doors. Everything was locked and I couldn’t get inside. I walked around the building in the rain, luggage in tow searching for the right doors.  Time to call work back home.  They guided me to the right doors, I took the wrong elevator – twice – and eventually made it to the training center on time 🙂

After the workshop, I called a taxi to drop me off at the train station. No more getting lost.  I noticed the pedestrians were moving faster than my cab. As we crawl up the first block, the driver  tells me that he can’t take me all the way to train station, it’s been under construction for a year and no cars can get to the doors. He would drive me as far as he could, and then I would need to walk the rest of the way.

As we crawl up the second street, my driver starts yelling “Get out! Get out!” I look around, I’m in the middle of the street, there are cars and people everywhere. I look at him pleading “You want me to get out here?? But I don’t know where I’m going! And I need a receipt!” He continues to point down the street to what I recognize as one of the dark places I crossed the night before, saying “Get out! Get out! Lights changing! Cars behind! Get out! Get out!”

I threw open my door and started pulling on my luggage which had somehow managed to get stuck inside the cab. The driver continued to repeat “Get out! Get out!” I started to panic, and suddenly saw the humor in all of it. Laughing, still trying to get my luggage free, hoping not to pee my pants, the driver, then perturbed, met my eyes and started to chuckle himself.

I started to walk toward what I hoped could only be an unmarked train station, which security guards did confirm once I was inside. I made it to my train, survived Toronto, and once again enjoyed the gift of a new friend brought together by food 🙂 We laughed, shared stories, even tears. And I thought to myself “what a great way to end my adventure.”

I always used to say “If you get lost with a friend, it’s an adventure. To get lost by yourself would be scary.” Now I say “If you get lost with a friend, it’s an adventure. If you get lost by yourself, it’s an even bigger one!”

Here’s to celebrating your each and every adventure!

Embrace Your Awesomeness!

Your comments are the most rewarding part my of sharing a piece of myself with you. I’d love to hear your thoughts ❤

Leave a comment

14 Comments

  1. Jenny

     /  October 20, 2012

    LOL too funny my friend! That is why the first question that I asked you was are you there alone!!! Well written and tres funny. I can say first hand that life with you is always an adventure!! And I so remember hearing about the trip to no frills with Boogie. I like the new direction of your blog.

  2. Anonymous

     /  October 19, 2012

    I could not stop laughing!!! Tears came to my eyes. i’m sure the look on your face was even better, than our trip to no frills and the panic in your eyes to have to pack your own groceries. I don’t think they were thinking very clearly when they sent you out on your own to Toronto. This was a fantastic story for everyone to read only because everyone needs to laugh out loud sometimes, Thank you foe sharing!! I love you!

  3. LOL LOL wait till I tell you the story about when I went traveling through the train station to get some food LOL, glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, it means a lot 😀

  4. Anonymous

     /  October 19, 2012

    Sandy…you have the gift to raise any spirit!! I am so proud of you….I hope you atleast got a reciept! YOU NEED TO EMBRACE YOUR AWESOMENESS – cuz you did it sista’ all by yourself… I am proud of you 🙂

  5. Oh, Mom! you know what a free spirit I am! I conquered my fears and met some great people along the way! ❤ Thanks so much for taking the time to leave your comments 😀

  6. Yes Holly, this was a giant step outside my comfort zone! But I conqered my fears and am honestly looking forward to another adventure 😀 Thanks so much for taking the time to leave your comments Holly, it means a lot!

  7. LOL I thought you’d appreciate that part 😀

  8. Jillian Buckwald

     /  October 19, 2012

    okay, sorry Sandy, but I peed my pants at the luggage stuck in the cab thing!!! Great of you to have handled it as best as you did. I likely would have sat down on the curb and cried! Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2012 23:48:56 +0000 To: shawn.jill@live.com

  9. Anonymous

     /  October 19, 2012

    Oh Sandy! So glad you’re back home safe and sound. Next time you have to go to a big city, give your “MOMMA” more notice, and I will come with you!!! After reading this, I realize, how much I will worry next time you are away!

  10. What a fab adventure Sandy! Having grown up in a suburb of Australia and then working in the heart of London I know how you felt – but must admit my sense of direction is OK so never had the adventures you seem to have had! Thank you for sharing & well done for overcoming your fears ♥

  11. Tole Boy

     /  October 18, 2012

    HEY HON I SO ENJOYED YOUR JOURNEY….THANKS FOR SHARING…I miss you and cant wait for our evening out. Im sending thousands of angels your way….have� a great day… your friend always

    ________________________________

  12. Loved this Sandy! So great to share in your adventure! Great work 🙂

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