BIRMINGHAM, Al — The narrow, blacktop path along the small creek by my hotel was a welcome, early-morning respite from an editor’s meeting here this past week. The sun was yet to fully rise and there was a light mist falling. Birds were singing along the creekbank.
Two runners passed with brief acknowledgements. With no breadcrumbs to leave behind, my only concern was finding my way back to the hotel. How embarrassing to travel a thousand miles only to get lost a mile from where I started walking.
My family will attest to the navigationally challenged condition that impacts me when I get more than two counties away from Norman. For me, north and south, east and west are hard to detect on a cloudy day. At home, I will always remember learning my directions early by facing north to Oklahoma City, south to Noble, east to Lake Thunderbird and west to Brockhaus Dairy where we bought our milk.
Phone apps don’t help either. Twice, I’ve had to race to the right airport after the woman in my telephone incorrectly directed us to private airfields in Alabama and Tennessee.
Those familiar landmarks we all have in our hometowns remind us of the right way to get there from here. It’s not often the fastest route but at least we can remember to turn left or right at the proper time.
Those landmarks of life can change, get new names or even pack up and move. It often makes conversations difficult. There’s been a grocery store across from Norman High School since the 1950s when the Sterr family moved from 326 E. Main Street to 1100 West Main Street. That store, most recently a Homeland, has closed but two others have opened within half a mile of it. Talk on the street is that another one will open there soon.