On Tuesday, July 20th 2010, what started out as a short trip to the University of Baltimore, Maryland turned out to be a real eye opener for me. How long its lesson would last is still unknown, but for my sake, I hope it lasts a long time.
The University of Baltimore is the most libertine school in Maryland, as I have been told, and while I loved that bit of information about the school, I did not like its location: Downtown Baltimore. For the past decade, Downtown Baltimore and I have had a hate-hate relationship, and we have not been afraid to make our feelings known.
Having forgotten to take my GPS from my mother, the next best option would have been to print out the directions, but alas, I have also developed a sudden inability to read directions from MapQuest and its likes. I relied, instead, on the directions that my friend, Funmi gave me. There was only one problem: she did not give me everything, and the plan was to call her while I was on my way. I would later find out that that was not a smart decision.
Five unanswered calls later and parked in front of the Wal-Greens on Harford Road and North Avenue, I realized I was screwed. I had called Funmi for directions, but Funmi was nowhere to be heard. I had no idea what way to go next. I could either go back home or ask around and try to find my way. Having traveled so far, I decided that quitting would not be the best option, so I asked for help. When a slim African American lady parked next to me, I rolled down my window and asked if she knew the way to the University of Baltimore. Oh, she knew the way quite alright; describing it to me was the challenge as the maneuvered her hands from left to right, and from top to bottom, all in an attempt to give me directions. Not once did she mention a street I had to turn on. I thanked her and drove to the nearest gas station for some directions I could use.
The Caucasian man with the overstuffed briefcase knew the way. He told me to make a turn on St. Paul. I did as he said, and sure enough, the University of Baltimore was right there. However, I was met with yet another challenge: the University was scattered all over the place, it seemed. Several buildings bore the University of Baltimore flag. I had forgotten to check the name of the exact building I needed to go to. It was at that moment that I parked on the street with both blinkers on and put my Blackberry to good use. As it turned out, I needed to be on West Preston Street.
Frustrated, I drove around Downtown Baltimore, guessing which turn to make every time I got to an intersection, and somehow, convinced that eventually, I would get to West Preston Street. Funny enough, I did get to West Preston Street. Unfortunately, though, I was on the wrong West Preston Street. I would later find out from a cop who was parked on the street that I needed to be on the other West Preston Street. “Go on Maryland Avenue,” he had told me. He told me how to get to Maryland Avenue, and off I went, in search of West Preston Street. It was only while I had driven on Maryland Avenue for a while that I realized he never told me where or how far to drive on Maryland Avenue before I found West Preston Street.
It was the second day of my menstrual cycle (too much information, I know, but I was not nominated TMI Blogger for nothing), and I was starting to suffer the cramps. In the midst of my crankiness, fury, anger, frustration, and regret, I parked my car on Maryland Avenue, and right there, across a parking garage, I overlooked the street sign for Saratoga and decided that maybe I needed to call the University of Baltimore. But before then, I swallowed two Midol pills and drank it down with a bottle of water that had succumbed to the summer heat.
My conversation with the University of Baltimore took approximately ten minutes, and as it turned out, I did not need to drive there after all. As I sat in my car and thought about navigating my way back home, I had to take a moment to first recline my seat and rest a bit. Five minutes later, I was on my way home. I did not know the way, but I hoped that somehow, I would end up at home by the end of the day. It would be another ninety minutes before I actually got home.
My journey took me to Hanover, a place I did not recall ever being to before. Everything was unnecessarily difficult, it seemed – even getting a one dollar McChicken sandwich from McDonald’s was strenuous as I had to drive by three times before I finally got it right. It was the sweating Caucasian man sitting in his brown, humid car outside of Royal Farms that directed me back to I-695. “Just go up this way,” he had said, “Then you’ll go past a bunch of stores and shit,” he continued, and quickly added – after he saw the doubt on my face – “I ain’t gonna lie to you, sweetheart. You’ll see the exit for I-695.”
I took his word for it, and just as he had said, I did find the exit. My joy knew no boundaries at that point. Oblivious to how far away from home I really was, I thought I would start my I-695 journey at about Exit 20 or so. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I realized I was on Exit 7, knowing that I had to drive till Exit 34. Still, I was at peace.
Life is like that sometimes. I knew where I was coming from. I knew where I was going to, but I had no clue how I was going to get there, and I relied only on one source for directions. My source, as I later found out, was fast asleep as I hopelessly dialed and redialed her number. I spent so much time driving around and around, unable to get to where I was going because I had no idea how I was supposed to get there. Some days, I wake up feeling that way about my life.
I know where I want to go. I know what I want to do. I know the many, many dreams I have. I just have no clue how to go about them, and along the way, there have been too many distractions – most of which I welcomed and thought to be friendly. I was a different person as soon as I hit I-695. I knew without a shadow of doubt that no matter what – in spite of the bumper-to-bumper traffic and the long distance I had to drive, I would reach my destination. It was only then that I remembered to turn on the music, put on my blue sun glasses, and enjoy the ride.
Life is like that sometimes. Things become incredibly easy the moment we set our feet on the right track. We become very confident of our journey, so no matter what obstacles we may meet on said journey, we laugh and keep pressing on because we know for sure that this road we’re on, leads us directly to our destiny. The hardest part now is finding the White man in his brown humid car, the man who will say to us, “I ain’t gonna lie to you, sweetheart,” and mean his words. My Pastor calls such a man a Destiny Helper.
Good luck finding your man (or woman).
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