Getting off track

Not where we got lost, but this is in Maine(Not where we got lost. But this is in Maine.)

I haven’t posted for weeks and weeks. I’ve barely written anything for weeks. I still don’t know how much of my life is going to be consumed by trying to give my mother the best life still available to her, or when I’ll have to drop all the balls that I juggle to race off and tend to her again. But for the moment, I’m trying to start my intended life going again by writing something. Anything.

It’s hard, after such a long break.

Go back to the fantasy-in-progress? Pick up the regency that I barely started during NaNo? Get moving on the alternate history mystery? All good ideas. All too much to cope with tonight. I could easily start racing off in various directions and get nowhere at all. Instead, I think I’ll tell you a story. About getting lost.

Several years ago, we went to Maine for a vacation. The efficient way to get to Maine from New Jersey is to get on Interstate 95 and keep driving north, fast.

The boring way to get anywhere is to get on the Interstate and keep driving, fast. Besides, my husband had a nice shiny new GPS to play with. So we got off 95 and started exploring. Eventually, the GPS gave up on giving us directions to take us back to I-95, and started to send us on more adventurous routes. Soon we were following a nameless road with no route number through a field and into the woods.

Not long after that, three things happened. First, the pavement disappeared. The GPS still wanted us to keep going; maybe it knew a shortcut? So we drove on. Next, as the trees got thicker and taller, the GPS lost contact with its satellites. (This GPS, we later learned, lost the satellites when you went under a tree, when you went under a cloud, and sometimes for no reason at all.) We drove on. The road got rockier, and then it forked. The GPS was still lost. We looked at the two choices of dirt road and picked the one that looked a little more heavily traveled. (Yep. Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one more traveled by. And it didn’t make a bit of difference.)

We drove past a swampy lake, and the GPS almost woke up. We drove back into the woods, and the GPS gave up again. We drove into somebody’s driveway. Um. Yes, that was the end of this piece of road. We quietly turned around and drove back to the fork, took the road less traveled by, drove through more woods, and wound up in somebody else’s driveway.

So we turned around yet again, crept away through the woods, back to the paved nameless road, back to the slightly wider road that had an actual state highway number. The GPS was still sleeping. We applied a little dead reckoning (as in, “That way feels like north, doesn’t it?”) and drove on. The GPS finally came back to life on the outskirts of Bar Harbor.

I suppose it’s traditional to wrap up fables like this with a nice little moral. “Even experts may not know what they’re talking about”? “Better bored than confused”? (Nah.) “Use your best judgment and you’ll wind up someplace, even if it’s not where you meant to go”?

Pick your favorite. Or make up your own.

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