The 11:03 to Giverny
The 17:51 to Paris
At least now I understand what’s wrong with my sense of direction. Carol and I arrived back in a section of Paris (the St. Lazare train station) neither of us had been to before. The Place d’Opera looked interesting, and I consulted our city map.
“It's down to the right,” I said, confidently pointing in that direction.
“Not according to the map,” Carol responded, a look of mild consternation on her face.
Again, I studied the map. I showed her the route I had traced. “No, you see? Here we are, and here is the Opera.”
Carol took the map and turned it. “The train station is behind us, Reid. Here we are and there is the Opera.” She pointed in the opposite direction of where I had. I shrugged my resignation, but headed off in the direction Carol had indicated. “I still think it's to the right,” I maintained, certain I knew how to read a map of Paris. Three blocks later, we were taking awestruck photos of the opulent Paris Opera.
The other defining moments occurred in Arles. I had located the the Espace Van Gogh, the asylum where Vincent was taken after he'd cut off his ear, the cloistered garden of which was the subject of one of his more famous paintings. I showed the map (what am I still doing holding a map is a valid question) to Carol. “We go down to Rue de Clemenceau and go left.”
Carol looked at the map. “It's a right on Clemenceau, Reid.” This time I saw she was right. As we began walking, she asked. “If you were traveling alone, would you actually have gone left?” I nodded, and this time her concerned look had darkened into what I thought might have been an incipient diagnosis.
The clincher came in the garden of the asylum (appropriate perhaps) when Carol saw me lining up a photo attempting to replicate the point of view. “Its at the other corner,” she offered helpfully. There's no way…, but I sulked over to the other corner, where I saw immediately she was right again. “Yes, I see that now!” I exclaimed with what I hoped was a sufficiently triumphant tone to convince her the appointment with the dementia specialist could be put off indefinitely.
The fix for my directional dilemma seems a simple one. It appears I'm precisely 180 degrees off in my orienteering. All I have to do is determine my direction to a given point, and go the opposite way. Funny thing is, my sense of direction on boarding a train seems superior to Carol's. When we took our seats for the connecting train to Avignon, Carol remarked that it was too bad we'd be sitting backward to the train’s direction of travel. I told her we were not, and when the train started up and Carol saw we were indeed seated in the right direction, I caught what appeared to be a glance of admiration coming my way.
Then again, it might just have been relief.