When the Road Seems Unfamiliar


Suddenly the road did not make sense as I headed home after dark.

It’s one thing to see your landmarks, knowing you turn left at the stop sign, turn left again after the tracks and then the first right that slides off the road like a mini exit, but once night falls those cues disappear. I turned on roads that seemed familiar but weren’t. Finally I turned into a subdivision, stopped.

I did not like my fear, or how I felt frail and old, or how my sense of direction and the many times I’d visited this place failed me.

As a young person, I thought nothing of driving to a dog show in a strange town, sometimes returning after dark. I looked down on old people for their insecurity.

But now that I am in my sixties, I can empathize. I am disoriented, feeling like a teenager in a body and mind that promise to fail.

There is a darkness rising on the horizon — blue and purple — somewhat beautiful, that I will need to find a way to navigate.

I held Siri and spoke. “How do I get to McHenry County College?” She said, “Turn left on Country Club road.” A map that moves as I moved lit up my phone.

I took a deep breath and followed her directions, though I didn’t know how to shut her up when I found my way.

I’m Katie Andraski, and that’s my perspective. If you’d like to hear me read this click here.

This was first published on WNIJ.


  • Joe Pote says:

    You’ve done a good job describing that disoriented feeling of things not being where expected. Reading it reminded me of the many times I became disoriented in the woods while coon hunting at night, when I was in high school. I’d think I knew where I was and what direction I was going…and knew I was in an area that should have been familiar, but then I would emerge in an unknown pasture or a back road where I thought one shouldn’t have been.

    Speaking of moonlit travel…last night I took a moonlit ride on my 5-yo-QH gelding. What fun! He did great and I loved it. Something magical about moonlight. 🙂

    • katiewilda says:

      Thank you so much. Now that’s eerie to come out into strange pastures or roads. It’s like we enter a new dimension when that happens, like the the fabric between this and that thins and we step somewhere we’ve never been before.

      What a wonderful time riding your young horse in the moonlight. I used to ride in moonlight as a child. You’re right about there being something magical about it. Thanks for stopping by.

  • The old maps often warn of the area outside the known territory, “Beyond this point there be dragons.” I lived for several years just north of Bodega Bay, California, across Highway One from the Pacific Ocean. In the late afternoon the fog would begin rolling in, at first only a vague cloud bank, at ocean level and far away–but moving. Usually before dark it would have reached land and covered the highway and, eventually, my small house. It was magic. I had friends in Berkeley and would sometimes find myself driving home late in the day. Heading up Highway One from Bodega Bay I always came around a bend in the road and could see the ocean ahead and to my left. And there would be the fog, waiting for me. Entering it was like driving into another world. All sounds except the ocean were silenced. I couldn’t see further than the hood of my old Volvo station wagon. The road disappeared altogether and there was nothing by which I could gauge my location. Fear raced through my whole body. I crept ahead at five miles an hour. The sensation of floating–free of any anchor–was overwhelming. Dante wrote, “Midway on my journey I awoke to find myself in a dark wood.” Is it in this magic fog, this darkness on the road, that we are transformed? Like you, Katie, I always made it home. Thank you for posting this.

    • katiewilda says:

      What an amazing comment, and amazing adventure to live so close to the ocean, to see this magical fog rolling in, to anticipate it, and then have it arrive. Those kinds of dense fogs can be hard to drive in. I’m so glad you made it home safely every time. I remember those lines from Dante and I think these two: “I did not die, but nothing of my life remained.” I do think these fogs, these darknesses transform us. If nothing more than to drive slowly, to listen for directions, to have beginner’s mind. Thank you as always for stopping by.