Certain uncertainty is a strange feeling. Imagine you are a trapeze artist flying without a net and your grip starts to slip. That’s certain uncertainty. A fight or flight, adrenaline filled feeling when you know “flighting” isn’t an option. So you stay and fight even though you don’t know how it will turn out. Your choices are do or do. There is no alternative. But you don’t know what will happen or how you will find your way to the other side. That is certain uncertainty. I’ll give you a great example.
My friend was visiting for the weekend. Her brother was having an Open House here after getting married in Salt Lake. She ended up being so busy with family that it was difficult to fit in visits with friends. But she needed those visits to unwind and process. Family is awesome but I could tell she was exhausted from trying to be on her best behavior. It didn’t help that nine people were camped out in her mom’s place sharing one bathroom because the baby was in a pack and play in front of the other bathroom. It was the only place dark enough and quiet enough. She had come to visit me late Sunday evening.
Her husband dropped her off and I said I would take her home later. We hadn’t been out in the gazebo talking for long when he called asking if she had the keys to her mom’s house. She did. He is the complete opposite of the two of us. He was not bothered by this snag in plans. Eventually her mom, brother, and his new bride would come back from their trip to San Francisco. I imagine he just drove around with the kids until that happened. He is very chill like that. In the meantime we talked.
Heath was about to put the kids to bed when Abigail said it was late and she probably better get going. We walked in the house and slipped our flip flops back on. She grabbed her stuff while I grabbed my wallet and keys. Not my cell phone. That was not on the counter where it normally sits. It was on the fireplace hearth where I was sitting watching a movie before she came and we were texting. I didn’t think I needed my phone. After all, I had been to her mom’s house. It was really easy to get to.
Off we went with me knowing full well I did not have my cell phone. I had a quiet, almost imperceptible pit in my stomach about it. Stupidly I pushed the feeling away. It was such a quiet impression I only recognized it in hindsight. Besides that, I knew where her mom lived. Up the Road to Nowhere, left at the next major street over and straight on till morning. She lives in a cute little neighborhood up there.
Halfway up the Road to Nowhere she tells me her mom now lives by the mall. She says the cross streets and I felt quite confident with the area. On I drove. My only fear at the time was not liking to drive at night. Abigail knows I hate driving no matter what and she appreciated my small sacrifice for her. We talked and I drove. The back road we took toward the mall seemed extra dark. She told me to turn left into an elite neighborhood across the street from the mall.
“Have you ever been up here before?”
I told her that I hadn’t but it was fine. Then she told me she wouldn’t take me the most direct route to her mom’s house. She would direct me to go the most well lit route. Oh goody. Blackness and the occasional deer crossing signs were all I could see. Street lamps were few and far between. The road was lit the most at intersections where she told me to turn left. The last street I turned on had a speed limit of 45 mph. I went much slower feeling like I was overdriving my headlights. I tried not to be too slow. She prefers to go fast. I think she was patient with me because she knows how much I hate driving. Although I couldn’t help wondering if she was taking me up into the hills to dispose of my body. Where in the world were we?
Eventually a group of buildings cropped up and she told me to turn left. She said something about me dropping her off at the corner to make it easier to turn around. Maybe I should have asked a clarifying question. Instead I finished the turn and stopped across the street from her mom’s building. I couldn’t see houses as much as garages.
She got out and asked if I felt okay to drive home. I definitely felt uncertain but I thought I had paid attention to all the left turns I had made and was ready to reverse course. I told her I would be fine. She waved and walked behind me across the street. I watched her climb the stairs and disappear off to the left. Left has no significance to the story. Everything just seemed to be located on the left! I pulled onto the street slowly. Immediately a car was behind me. Great. That should make it easier to find a place to turn around!
The car followed me up the street for a ways before I found two empty parking spots on the left. I flipped on my blinker and pulled right in. As I did I read “resident only” in paint at the bottom of each spot. Please tell me neither of these spots were his! He drove on and I could more easily turn around.
Facing the right direction I was desperately trying to push down the uncertain fear building inside me. I started praying. Please help me get home safely. Please help me find my way home. Please please please. With my heart jumping in my throat I drove into the black and wild unknown. Please help me find my way home.
She had said to turn right at a sign that said Preserve. Of course another car was following me. I don’t like the added pressure of finding places in my car while someone is following me. I saw a sign off to the right. Flipping my blinker on, I eased my way into the new right turn only lane. The sign did not say Preserve. Maybe I hadn’t gone far enough. I let the car pass me and I pulled back onto the street. My thought process was that they must be trying to get back to “civilization” like I was. I would follow them.
I followed for a very long time. There were no turn offs. A few buildings on the left were faintly illuminated by stars. I had no idea what the businesses were but clearly they were closed. I would find no help there. My heart was racing a mile a minute, I was still praying, and thinking out loud, “I have no idea where I am!” There were more lights on the right. I looked over and saw I was following alongside a freeway. Somehow I had found some frontage road. All I knew was that those cars were going the right direction. I was going the exact opposite of where I needed to be.
I had passed a strange opening on the right. I did not recognize the street name. After driving away from where I knew I needed to be for quite some time, I decided to turn around to find that opening or turn off. It seemed to be the only one and possibly my only chance to get my bearings. The white digital numbers in my van clicked up. Time was slowly ticking away.
All I wanted was to be home in my bed falling asleep to Friends on Netflix. Instead I was cruising down some frontage road in the middle of nowhere. This is where people go to die! Heath please find me! But I didn’t have my phone. He had no idea I was even lost.
I found the strange opening. It was a street perpendicular to the highway to hell I was on. It looked like some secret portal toward sanity the way it was lit and kind of went under the freeway. I still did not recognize the street name but I didn’t care. I felt like Sarah in Labyrinth. “What do they mean labyrinth? There aren’t any twists or turns or anything.” Sometimes you just have to dig deep for some faith and go for it.
My heart raced more and more. I hoped with all my might I could momentarily forget that I normally can’t navigate my way out of a paper bag, and just figure something out. I came to a light and saw the cross street was called I-Know-It-Blvd. Okay not really. I like to keep the details of my life vague online. I turned right toward the city lights. It took forever but I eventually drove far enough that I started to recognize where I was. I turned right at the appropriate time and it was smooth sailing all the way back.
As I drove down the Road to Nowhere I started singing Naive Melody by Talking Heads. “Home is where I want to be, pick me up and turn me round … I feel numb – born with a weak heart guess I must be having fun …” Walking through the garage door into my laundry room has never felt sweeter.
Lessons learned: don’t ever leave home without a cell phone. It has GPS and voice command directions home!
Finding my way out of a black paper bag made me feel like a warrior. I am so grateful for the divine guidance I know I had that night.