The storm passed. He looks out to the ocean and no longer sees any recognizable landmarks. Panic sets in. Sailing alone and lost at sea in the dead of night. To his relief, he looks up to see the “Seven Sisters” shining through the clouds from the constellation of Taurus. From 400 light years away, the Pleiades star cluster calmly navigates him to shore.
At this same moment, a little less than halfway across the world, my grandmother fastens her favorite hat over her bun. She puts on a thick pair socks to keep her feet dry from the rain. Her necklace, a simple chain with an emergency whistle is the only ornamentation she prefers. For the first time in over two months, she opens the front door and prepares to leave her apartment. Afternoon light floods in against her silhouette. Scents from the first rain of Autumn can for a few moments relieve her living room of cigarette residue.
As she secures the third lock, her landline phone sits in the middle of her back bedroom floor that she has refused to use since 1996. Mangled and still surrounded by bits of drywall. All cords have been ripped out; an act of passion.
The last of her ritual is to write us a note detailing that she walked to the grocery store and will be back. Date and time neatly included. Top right. Signed, Mim. No one has arrived at her doorstep to see these notes in over a year. Except two apartment maintenance workers and a handful of brave children that accepted their dare to knock on the schizophrenic lady’s door.
At the same moment she carefully descends down her apartment steps, the storm hits 40 miles away during my afternoon jog. I stop and listen to the rain hitting the unfamiliar pavement and rooftops around me. I lean over and rest my palms onto my knees as rain water runs across my face. My phone is dead. I see no recognizable landmarks. Panic sets in. To my relief, I see an intersection nearby.
Think back to years ago grandmother sat in the passenger’s seat and called my gps nonsense. “Look for the address numbers on the street signs at each intersection. See, the numbers on the bottom left and the bottom right. You don’t need a robot to tell you that.”
Perception disorder and all, she managed to instill in me a true sense of direction. My laughter echoes through the rain.
40 miles away an eccentric old woman calmly navigates her walk down a busy service road to a nearby Albertson’s.
At this same moment, she unknowingly guides me home.