Lost in Virginia

I dropped Chandler off at college last weekend.

Chandler chose a liberal arts college in Washington DC, so by dropped off, I mean flew 2700 miles across the country, stayed five nights with a girlfriend in Virginia, and drove around picking up bedding and hangers and toothpaste (not to mention 5 Costco-sized boxes of granola bars and 6 pounds of protein powder) before depositing Chandler at his dorm where he almost didn’t let me stay and help him unpack. (Fortunately for him, he came to his senses.)

We flew out on Wednesday, did our errands on Thursday, went sightseeing on Friday and moved him in on Saturday. I stayed a couple extra days in case we forgot anything (which of course we did) and because it’s way cheaper to fly out on a Monday than a Sunday.

The roads in Virginia are confusing to me. In California we are on a grid. Virginia? Not so much.

map-of-san-fernando-valley
See those lines? Those are roads. It may not be pretty, but it’s easy to find your way around.

 

I could find no rhyme or reason to how they planned their roads. Streets randomly change names, there are trees everywhere, which is lovely, but it means that there are no landmarks and everywhere looks the same. There are also no signs. I understand and appreciate sign laws, but they have seriously taken the whole “no sign” thing too far. Strip malls sit far back off the street (behind the trees) and there is no possible way to know what store is inside of a shopping center unless you drive into it (down a quarter mile long driveway). Can someone please explain to me how someone from out of town is supposed to know where a freaking Starbucks is if you can’t see them from the road?!

Loudoun County Map
This is so not a grid.

 

And to make matters worse the GPS on my phone was not cooperating so we had to use Chandler’s. Yes, the navigation lady on Chandler’s phone would tell us to In half a mile turn right, In 400 feet turn right, TURN RIGHT! I mean, yeah, she was a little bossy, but in this case it was comforting to be told exactly where to go.

The only thing my navigation lady said was GPS signal lost. (Bitch!)

When I left Chandler on Saturday my GPS lost its signal (again) but at least it happened after I downloaded the directions. Then the battery started to die. My portable charger was dead and the car charger would not work. “Really, universe?!” I screamed said out loud. “I just dropped my son off at college 2,700 miles away. He’s so excited to start life on his own, he wouldn’t even let me stay for dinner. And now you’re not going to let me find my way home?” They say if you put it out into the universe what you need you will get it and this time it actually worked – with a bit of effort (and a lot of jiggling) I was able to get the car charger to work(ish).

I made it back and had half price sushi with my very good lifelong friends who now live in Virginia. Fortunately I did not have to drive.

On Sunday I had to go to Walmart (light bulb for desk lamp, thumb tacks and dryer sheets) and Old Navy (flip flops for the shower that inexplicably Walmart did not have) in Virginia, then to Chandler’s school in DC, and then back to Virginia to a cool restaurant/wine tasting bar called The Wine Kitchen to meet my long-time blogger friend Abby Byrd IRL. (That’s In Real Life for all you non-bloggers out there.)

Easy-Peasy, right? I mean, I’m a full-time working suburban mom; my typical Sundays have three times the items on this list.

I got to Walmart and Old Navy just fine. But then my GPS decided to PMS and completely shut down on me in the Old Navy parking lot even though I had full bars. (I told you she was a bitch!)

And when you’re somewhere you’ve never been before, you’re feeling very emotional about just dropping off your firstborn at college (that did I mention is 2,700 miles away?) and lost, it kind of stresses you out.

I went back into Old Navy to get on their WiFi so I could pull up my navigation. And I was running late so I had to get in touch with Abby and ask her if we could meet an hour later. BUT, even though I connected to Old Navy’s WiFi I could not get my navigation to work. And to make matters worse I did not have Abby’s phone number and could only contact her via Facebook messenger, which was also not working.

Fantastic!

I decided to go next door to Nordstrom Rack hoping their WiFi would be better, because, you know, it’s Nordstrom. Success! I was able to change the time with Abby and pull up directions. Of course the navigation signal was lost the minute I walked out of the store, but at least it was stored in my phone.

After saying goodbye to Chandler I punched in the address to The Wine Kitchen and surprise, surprise, my GPS had shut down again. I saw a university shuttle bus that takes students to the closest Metro stop so I followed it knowing there was a Starbucks at that stop and I could go inside and get onto my navigation system using their WiFi.

By this time I was running late, mentally exhausted, emotionally drained, frustrated and lacking confidence (though I have to admit it was pretty clever of me to follow that bus). My phone screen kept going black and I had to continually swipe my screen and re-pull up my directions. It was while doing this that I missed an exit on my way to the Wine Kitchen. As I drove past it I literally screamed, “NOOOOOOOO!!!!” at the top of my lungs as tears rolled down my face. I felt completely undone, as if this were some harbinger of what my life was going to be like without Chandler. Without me he was untethered and free. Without him I couldn’t find my way; I was lost.

Can I ask that you indulge me (yes even more) for a minute and let me tell once again how crazy the roads are in Virginia? You can’t just get off at the next exit and get back on in the opposite direction like you can in California.

As an example it was 22.6 miles from the Old Navy to Chandler’s school. This relatively “short” trip had 9 turns, 7 roads, 1 parkway, 1 state road, 3 highways and a traffic circle and is a 35 minute trip with no traffic. (Thank you Google maps.)

In comparison, from my house to UCLA it is 26.7 miles that has 5 turns, 6 streets and 2 freeways and is a 33 minute trip with no traffic. Okay, the fact that there is never no traffic between my house and UCLA, even at 4AM on Christmas is beside the point!

Thank you for your indulgence, back to the story…

I did pull off at the next exit (I was still a good 30 minutes away and was supposed to meet Abby in 10 minutes) and saw a Ritz Carlton. I parked in front a shuttle bus, walked up to a valet and said, “Hi. I’m incredibly lost. I’m 3,000 miles away from home, I have no idea where anything is, I’m late for an appointment and my GPS is not working.” I did my best to hold it together and not have crazy eyes or tears.

He kindly directed me to the concierge where the lovely man behind the desk agreed that Virginia roads are jacked up and printed me a map. Abby had arrived and texted me (I had given her my number) and I was able to let her know that I was going to be really (really) late.

I finally found my destination with Abby waiting graciously and patiently for me. The wine and conversation made me feel better (because wine and conversation makes everything better). Afterwards Abby helped me find my way back to my friend’s. (Which miraculously only had 3 roads and 2 turns!)

I’ve been home a few days now. I know where everything is, but I still can’t shake the feeling that I’m lost, still trying to find my way.

 

 

 

 

 

More on Running and it Sucking

I still hate running. Seriously. I get no joy out of it. Zero.

One might wonder what sort of crazy person does something she hates five days a week. Something that makes her sore afterwards. Something that makes her out of breath and miserable while she’s doing it.

Yeah, when I figure that out I’ll let you know.

I’m training for a 10K – that’s about 6.2 miles, which is about 6 miles too far in my book. To date the furthest I’ve ever run is five miles. And that was so hard. Like really, really, really hard. And I had to walk some of it. (I always have to walk some of it.)

I’m training with the run club at my gym. We meet on Sundays for a long run and then we have running homework every week. I think I’d rather do Chandler’s Math Analysis homework. And I really suck at math. (Except for percentages and how they relate to things that are on sale. I’ll tell you, I can calculate the sale price of something in my head with the snap of a finger, no calculator needed.)

At the start of the training for the 10K our coach told us that we had  to do our homework. “Don’t come to these long Sunday runs without doing your homework,” he warned us. “Because if you do, one of three things are guaranteed to happen. One, you will get hurt. Two, you will die. Or three, you will not finish your race.”

Honestly any of those scenarios sound preferable to me having to run six point two miles.

Last week I was pretty excited because I had it in my head that we had an easy week and our homework was Monday off, Tuesday 2 miles, Wednesday 1 mile, Thursday 2 miles, Friday off, and Saturday one mile. My friend Carol corrected me and told me that is was Tuesday 2 miles, Wednesday 2 miles, Thursday 3 miles. We checked. She was right. Stupid Carol!

I’ve been running for over four months now, but I’m not getting any better at it. Well, it is getting a tiny bit easier, but I’m so slow. I’m always one of the last ones to finish.

On yesterday’s run we did a 4 mile trail run. My friend -who shall remain nameless, but she knows who she is!- asked me to run with her because she hadn’t run for a week because she’d been sick. Yeah, that’s how slow I am. I run with the infirmed.

Also, she got lost on a trail once and hurt her foot, so understandably she hates trails. This trail was pretty narrow in places with sharp drop-offs and very uneven terrain – very hard to do if you are not a trail-run fan. (Or if, like me, you’re not an any-run fan.)

Wildwood-trails
See those dots on the trails? Those are some of the many, many runners in front of us.

My nameless friend had to walk a lot of it because of the unevenness of the terrain, so I, out of the goodness of my heart, walked a lot of it too. You know, because I’m a good friend like that. Not because I couldn’t run it. (Cough cough!)

I will admit that it is a beautiful trail (if you like dry California scrub) and at a little over halfway you end up at a waterfall.

Waterfall-Wildwood-Hike
Feeling strong – of course this waterfall is at the bottom of a canyon and now I have to go back up!

And I suppose I should tell you that the main reason my friend wanted me to stay with her was because she was afraid of getting lost. So you know I got us lost right? And of course getting us lost resulted in us doing an extra mile. (I might or might not have said bad words to our running coach when he found us at the bottom of the trail where we’d taken a wrong turn and told us we’d have to go back.) I probably should have told her that I’m not just bad at math and running. I also have a terrible sense of direction.

Needless to say, we came in last for the people that were doing the four mile run. I’m pretty sure we still would have even if we hadn’t gone the extra mile.

So yes, as far as I’m concerned – running? It still totally sucks.