I’d found myself being foot lost whenever I embarked on new territory. It was irrelevant that I’d printed out directions online, or that I was in somewhat navigational friendly territory and armed with a sturdy map and a confident demeanor. It simply did not matter. I was overmatched by my inferior function, my inability to put one foot in front of the other and walk in the right direction, an affliction that had seemingly only surfaced when I moved to Europe. Nevertheless, the end result was always the same: lost, confused, frustrated, and ultimately late to wherever it is I was going.
If memory served me correctly, my most colorful moment of being adrift befell on a cool, windy day in Frankfurt. It was a much-dreaded, guilt-laden commitment, but because I took the pledge, I was ready to roll with the punches. The appointment time, location, and details were all in order. I just needed to show up and let the onslaught of awkwardness begin. It all sounded pretty straightforward:
“I can pick you up in my car. You call me when you arrive,” said the woman in a Spanish accent.
“All right, I’ll do that,” I said.
I started out the door and within minutes began cursing the wind as it whipped off my face. The directions were folded neatly in the right pocket of my black faux suede coat, as the left pocket housed my clenched fist. “Why don’t I just call her back and cancel,” I thought. But despite any and all reservations I had, I continued on.
The commute on the train was a slam dunk, but everything after that was, well—sloppy footwork. I exited at the wrong train stop and walked about four multiples of three rather than for the three-minute duration as explained in the directions. I did some mini-sightseeing and apparently convinced myself that I was headed the right way.
Alas, the nauseating smell of a nearby fast food joint, not my keen awareness, ended up being the catalyst for directional change; it was the slap in the face I needed to wake me up from my walking daydream. So back to the train station I went, and on board the train in the direction that I hoped would be the right one. I would just need to pay enough attention to actually hear (and see) the name of the stop.
Indeed, the right stop would be located with ease, but that was the only simple part. I walked for a solid ten minutes in a direction that my senses told me couldn’t possibly be wrong. But as time passed, I somehow felt like I’d be walking to Poland if I continued on my chosen route.
It was time for something different, so I retreated back toward the direction of the train station, the wind now fierce and defiant and seeming only to perpetuate my increased frustration and question the very nature of my foot speed. I decided to pick it up a bit and ultimately made the transition to the half-run walk, which always makes one look like a total loser.
“Entschuldigung, wo ist Südbahnof?” I asked a passing stranger. After some pointing and hearing words that made sense, I felt I’d be able to make it to my destination without any hiccups. But I was wrong. Maybe I hit the celebration button too soon, because about fifteen more minutes passed and I was still walking around like a devoted junkie. I hadn’t hit any of my marks and saw nothing remotely similar to what my directions indicated. And that’s when paranoia pinched me on the ass—hard. I turned into a walking lunatic, increasingly annoyed by pedestrians whose shoes pounded the sidewalk and made too much noise. Glancing down at my watch nearly every three seconds, I was uttering curses that slowly started to outnumber my breathing.
“I’m running a little late … uh, to be honest, I’m sort of lost,” I said to the woman on the phone.
“This is not a problem,” she said. “Tell me where you are and I pick you up.”
And that’s when the real work began. Still, what remained was the following thought: who keeps getting lost like this?