I can’t understand poetry. I am baffled by art. And I have yet to understand even one quote from the bible (any sentence with “thee” or “thou” in it frightens me). But blindfold me and spin me around a half dozen times, and I will still be able to tell you which direction is North.
I didn’t know I was like this until I was 10 years old.
We lived in Gardena, a tract home neighborhood in Southern California. Almost every house on the block had a family with children, and they overflowed into the street after school playing. In the summer my mother had a tradition. Every Wednesday she would pile as many kids as she could into her station wagon (no seat belts of course), and head to the beach. All you had to do was bring yourself and a towel, my Mom brought the rest.
She would drive straight down Rosecrans Blvd., heading west, and then head south a bit until we got to Redondo Beach, not that any of us were paying attention to how we got there. We always went on the left side of the pier where she would spread out an enormous blanket and we were let loose.
We spent the day running in the water, eating grapes, and getting horrible sunburns that would peel for days. Later we would walk on the pier and buy candy and look at the lobsters in the tanks.
When my older sister made it to Junior High, my parents decided it was time to move.
My mom loved antiques and was drawn to an estate sale she had heard about at a house in Belmont Shore (wherever that was). I remember her coming home excitedly and telling us that not only did she buy some stuff in the house, but that she wanted to buy the whole house itself! She had fallen in love with it. My father was skeptical. They spent some time checking out the area and the schools and decided to purchase our house on the corner of Covina and Division. From our new home you could look down the street and see the beach 2 blocks away.
Before moving, we spent a couple months going to the house on weekends to fix it up. One day I was helping my father paint the upstairs bathroom. I sat down to rest. From where I was sitting, the ocean was behind me. It didn’t feel right. “Dad”, I said. “The ocean is in the wrong place.”
“What do you mean?” he said. “Well when I’m sitting down in our old house, the ocean is behind me. In this house it should be over there,” I said as I pointed west. “How could it have moved?”
My Dad explained that Long Beach had a south facing beach, and that I was correct that heading to my left would indeed take me west to the Pacific, but heading south would take me there too. He showed me a map. (I LOVE maps! They make so much sense!!)
I don’t know how I knew that at age 10, I just did. It has been a nice gift to have all my life. I’m rarely lost (at least not physically!).
Nowadays, when the phone rings at La Strada and someone is lost, the whole staff knows to hand it to me and I can direct anyone safely to my Italian restaurant….although, the need for my skill is being phased out now because of smart phones…:(
So, the bottom line is ….. I can get to wherever I need to go, but I KNOW to stay away from art museums because I will never understand anything in them anyway. I am still trying to figure out what is so great about the Mona Lisa (except for her name, of course!)
Feel free to post a comment below about Belmont Shore, La Strada, your sense of direction…or what it is I am missing about the Mona Lisa!!