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My Misplaced Location on the Planet

Posted Jun 14 2011 8:30am

category_bug_journal2.gif When I'm reading a blog post or exchanging email or speaking on the phone with anyone, I like to know where they are, what state and city they live in so I can place them in relation to where I am.

If I know they are traveling, I ask where they are at that moment so to mentally plot the distance. I'm pretty sure many of us do this.

That's the reason I include location in the Where Elders Blog feature. If you don't know what that is – well, I haven't mentioned it in awhile. It's a section of this blog with pictures of the desks of elderbloggers and readers. There is a link to it in the Features section of the right-hand sidebar.

I just added a new one from Kathleen Noble (who lives in Arizona and Washington state) that you can see here . There are links to all the others along with instructions on how to add your own here .

When I was a little girl growing up on the west coast, Oregon and California, I dreamed of someday visiting the big cities of Europe – London, Rome, Paris, etc.

But from the vantage point of the western edge of the United States, that seemed an impossible distance to travel. Remember, back in the 1940s and 1950s, there were no jet planes yet. Air travel was much more time-consuming then and exotic too, an event to be remarked upon when anyone we knew flew to a far-away destination.

In the late 1960s, I moved to New York City and I recall the moment I realized – it was almost a shock - that Europe was not nearly as distant as it was from the west.

A year or so after our move, my then-husband and I were to travel to London to do an in-person interview with The Beatles for his radio show. At first I thought, god that's a long way to go. Then: Oh, wait. Not so far after all; I'm on the east coast now.

I lived there for 40 years and sometime after that first trip across the Atlantic, my personal, internal GPS locator repositioned itself to the longitude of the east. From that point forward, I thought of all other places on the map in relation to my new geographic point on the planet. Asia then came to feel impossibly far away.

Thirteen months ago, I moved back to the west coast but my damned mental map still puts me in the east.

When I think of Jan Adams , for a few moments I picture her w-a-a-a-y over there to the left in San Francisco. Darlene Costner is way over there too and a little south in Arizona. Marcia Mayo , on the hand, is just down the coast from me in Atlanta. Oops, not anymore.

Placement of Peter Tibbles, however, hasn't needed to change. Australia is on the bottom side of the world from either U.S. coast.

Recently, a friend here in Oregon told me that she and her husband are going to Japan for a couple of weeks. Sure enough, I thought of them on an endless flight of twelve hours or more until my new location asserted itself.

Thirteen months! And my internal GPS still refuses to reposition. I can almost hear that teeny-tiny woman in my car repeating ad infinitum, “Recalculating. Recalculating. Recalculating.”

Does this happen to anyone else?

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Vicki E. Jones: What If God -

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