“You’re not thinking fourth dimensionally. You’ll instantly be transported back into 1885, and those Indians won’t even be there.”
– Doc Brown, “Back to the Future: Part 3

I recently came across this list of thought processes, and although I haven’t had time to study each definition, who knew there were so many schools of thought? By the way, “fourth dimensional thinking” apparently hasn’t been accepted yet. Sorry Doc.

TaraFly in the car, sticking out her tongue

It's dangerous to let me roam free in public...

So I haven’t yet determined which process(es) my brain uses – if any! – but I can tell you one thing my mind is not capable of: understanding my relative position and orienting myself in unfamiliar surroundings. Basically, I get myself lost. A lot.

For some reason, my brain can’t paint an imaginary map and stick a thumb tack in my current location… I require step-by step directions and/or descriptive visual landmarks.

Embarrassingly, I don’t even know my own neighborhood well enough to explore off the beaten path. Once I memorize the steps needed to reach a destination, I never deviate from the trail.

Washington Street midday traffic in Hagerstown Maryland

A former neighborhood of mine... populated by crazy folks. 😉

My husband, on the other hand, can picture the entire city laid out inside his brain, and can figure out half a million short-cuts to arrive anywhere he wants.
Whereas, I take specific streets bypassing familiar landmarks, and will go “the long way” to avoid getting lost.

If you give me directions to your house, such as:
“Once you pass the red brick building with cement steps, on the left, turn right at the intersection…”
I will always and forever associate your house with that brick building on the LEFT. Coming from the opposite direction, with the house appearing on the right, I would probably not recognize it.
And if for some reason, I’m heading down a perpendicular street, two blocks away… I might as well be in Germany.

And woe to me if I’ve taken the route to your house 50,000 times in fair weather, only to find myself suddenly driving in the dark, or in unfavorable conditions. Impaired visibility leaves me completely disoriented.

Turn of the century buildings in downtown Hagerstown, Maryland

Early century rowhouses in downtown Hagerstown

“Where’s her house?! Where’s that damned red building with cement steps! It’s supposed to be on the left.”

I can easily drive in circles all around it.

Of course, learning the street names often helps… unless the road is 10 miles long and I’m at the wrong end. God, please, don’t get me started on those streets that stealthily change names on poor unsuspecting folk!

Once a route becomes familiar, I often set my internal clock to measure my estimated arrival time. And each landmark acquires its own benchmark: 
“Reach the brick building 15 minutes before ETA.”
Or if I’m faced with a deadline, it becomes “…gotta pass that brick building no later than 7:45AM or I’ll be late.”

A historic building on Washington Street, downtown Hagerstown MD

A historic stone building located at a busy intersection

Of course, those who have ridden as my passengers will eagerly tell you that my timeframes are grossly exaggerated. It doesn’t really take the average person 45 minutes to get there…. but those speed limits are supposed to be a glass ceiling, not merely a guideline.

With me behind the wheel, you’ll have time to stick your face out the window to smell the roses… and take a macro shot of them as well.

And I hyperventilate on highways, refusing to use them unless I have no other options. Trust me, I ask everybody to learn whether there is a back road over the mountain I can take first.

a cornfield beside a two-lane road in rural Maryland

Driving on an overpass, wishing I'd taken that road instead

Even sticking to the slow lane on the interstate isn’t enough to save me from crazy lunatics and impatient wannabe Nascar drivers. They blame me for clogging the road, and I blame Ford for inventing these motorized death-traps, when we’d all be safer driving carriages powered by real horses.

I’ve often thought it would be nice to eliminate highways and major roads altogether, and return to the good old days of wagons and stagecoaches… except that I do appreciate how technology has brought convenience into my life. Can anyone say 24 hour supermarkets?

Intersection of I-81 and I-70 near Hagerstown, Maryland

Going home, after an afternoon outside among real people...

Besides, if I did discover time travel, and transport myself back to 1885… I’d take a wrong turn down an ambiguous muddy lane (in a lightning storm) and never be seen or heard from again.