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Scary moment


I normally navigate by image, meaning that if I've been somewhere before, I remember what it looks like well enough to be able to go there again by how it looks. Which makes me useless at giving directions, because I don't remember the street names usually, I navigate by landmarks that are significant to me. I have found over the years that these landmarks are rarely noticed by other people to the same degree. Trying to think of an example. Okay, so like... I might tell someone to go two houses past the house with a tree that looks like an old man and then turn left, and then they don't see the tree because maybe it only looks like an old man from the sidewalk. Or I might say that something is across the street from X business, and that business is something small and not at all the obvious choice for most people; it might have been better to say it was across the street from the Denny's, whereas I said it was across the street from - I dunno - some tiny little book shop that stands out to me

The worst part of it is trying to tell someone how far to go. I walk or take the bus most places, but even giving directions to other walkers is often pretty useless to them. Because I usually can't tell them how far to walk, since I don't typically pay attention to any normal sort of distance marker, and even when I do I don't always know what the right definitions are. What I count as "five blocks" might actually be three blocks, and I'm counting it wrong because there's two little alleyways there that intersect the sidewalk, so I end up counting the alleyways as block markers the same as roads would be.

That's when I'm counting blocks at all. Usually when someone asks directions, even if I know where it is I end up standing there thinking, trying desperately to figure out how to translate my navigation method into Normalese. Because if I tried saying what I was really thinking, it might come out as "walk for the first three songs on Blue Oyster Cult's "Fire of Unknown Origin" album in that direction, then turn left at the metal box somebody put an anarchy symbol on with blue paint" (which is useless because I'd be assuming my own walking speed, and I'm a lot slower of a walker than most people), but most often I just don't know what to say at all because I don't even think about it. When I need to go somewhere I've been before, I check where I am and then I just go where I need to go, I don't put words to it and more often than not, I can't remember the route ahead of time at all, and instead it's just me experiencing a set of familiar scenes; if I need to turn, I don't think about it, I just do it. So how do I translate that into anything remotely useful to another person when I can't even tell myself what the route is?

New issue:

Occasionally over the years, I've experienced moments where my brain's navigation software goes buggy for a bit before rebooting. Most of the time, it's just a few seconds of getting turned around. I've never been great at north/south/east/west, I usually navigate by left/right/forward/back. Whenever I need to tell where north is, I have to figure out where I am in relation to something I know is in a northerly direction.

Anyway, so that's bad enough. But the last week I've experienced two extended bouts of nav system glitches. The first was on the 71, about a week ago. It was a crowded bus, and I had to stand up facing the back. I go that route all the time, but being in that position, when the bus turned at one spot that's usually familiar, I had about 30 seconds where I thought the bus had turned onto a different road, one that it would never turn down, and I was so confused I said aloud "what the fucking hell?" But then I realized what had happened and it was okay.

The real scary moment, though:

A few days ago, I was going from Hawthorne to the Hong Phat store on 82nd. To get there, I had to take the 75 north, get off at Burnside, and then take the line 20 east. I got off the 75 at the right place and went over to the right stop for the 20 without a problem. But then for an entire five minutes, the intersection I was at looked as unfamiliar to me as though I had never seen it before in my life. One second, I had no doubt where I was or where I needed to go, and the next second, the same visual image was completely unfamiliar to me. It didn't even look like Portland to me anymore; I didn't even recognize the city it was in. The image was exactly the same as before, but the usual "I know where I am" map hadn't loaded, so it was like being somewhere for the first time.

I knew, intellectually, that it was Portland. I knew, intellectually, that the streets were 39th and Burnside, and I knew that I was at the right stop, but only because I had known that information a moment ago and I trusted my previous perception, even if that information was now gone. But at the same time, my brain didn't recognize any of it, and wasn't at all sure which way was which or that I was even at the right stop or the right bus line. Hell, I couldn't even tell which way the hills were going at the time; I remember looking at the incline on 39th going up from Burnside and being certain that no such incline existed on 39th in that spot. Truth be told, I'm *still* pretty sure there's not supposed to be a hill there, but given that I recognized the place again once the bus stopped for me, I have to assume I just forgot about that hill somehow.

It's like in a computer where the recognition data (maps, images, etc) for the area had been in RAM one moment, then something glitched and the files blinked out of existence in the RAM, and my brain spent the next five minutes trying to find the files on the hard drive to reload them, all the while reading a normally familiar place as somewhere entirely new.

So yeah, that was scary, in an unnerving sort of way. Getting turned around for 30 seconds to a minute is one thing, but spending five whole minutes trying to figure out why a place that's usually familiar suddenly looks like I've never seen it before in my life was very unnerving.

This was cross-posted from https://fayanora.dreamwidth.org/1409054.html
You can comment either here or there.


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