cartographically crippled

cartographically crippled by dj johnson on unsplash

[Image by DJ Johnson on Unsplash]

So, I’ve lived in Joburg for 3+ years. Sure, I spent a lot of time “out of the country” or at least “out of Cleveland”, but really, it’s not so long since I left. 

Now, its less than one week before I get on a plane to go home and all I can think about is whether I have to take 90N to 271 (and which way does that run?) to get off the freeway at Lee road.

It’s not a difficult question, honestly, and the answer is one click away if I want it that bad, but what irks me is that I call Cleveland home and I can’t figure out how to get to Lee road.

For months I got off the freeway (coming from Kent, not Mentor and no I can’t figure out the numbers of those freeways at all) at Lee road – basically daily.

But finding the “beginning” of Lee road is only the first problem. I’ve got a pretty good stretch of the road covered in my mind. I go straight for a long time, past Erich’s street on the right, past Brandon’s and Ian’s on the left, past the little diner on the left and then Parnell’s on the right… 

That’s where the second problem begins – at the Cedar intersection. I know it’s the Cedar intersection thanks to the cleverly named Cedar Lee Cinema, which allows even the most geographically challenged of us to at least locate ourselves on the map. The challenge is that I can’t visualise that intersection at all. And that means I can’t mentally get from A to B in the manner that I want. 

Somehow from there, it is easy to get up to Coventry road. Do I go straight through the intersection, or do I turn there or even somewhere else altogether?

The truth is that I can get to Coventry blindfolded by getting off at MLKJ and dealing with the slow-moving traffic. But that’s a really roundabout way to go if I want to stop at Erich’s – off Lee road – isn’t it?

I would be somewhat more comforted by my inability to properly handle Lee road if I thought that I had replaced that information with more relevant directions. 

But I haven’t. Joburg is still a complete blur. 

I know that there is Grant avenue in Norwood, and I have two friends around the corner from Yo Sushi. But the simple fact is that I can not get there intentionally. I don’t know where it is. 

Grant Avenue has no connecting roads in my head, it just exists in a vacuum; only some restaurants on some street that is falling off of nowhere. 

And it took me three years to figure out how to get to Sandton, (accidentally, as I only noticed Jan Smuts extends far beyond the grasp of Rosebank about a month ago). And after the turn at Hyde Park I’d be hardpressed to guess what that street is called.

I never suspected I was so cartographically challenged. I mean I used to get in the car and drive to Chicago on a whim – how is this possible?

Nonetheless, I am not going to check out an online map or anything of the sort. I am going to sit here and continue debating whether 271 (which I know circles the city) is W/E or N/S and if it is even the right freeway to take. 

And maybe, by the time I land in Cleveland, I’ll have figured it out. At which point, Lee road will be the least of my worries. I mean – where the hell is the airport?

This was my very first blog post, published on 24 August 2015. I can’t believe it made the journey from MySpace to Blogspot to here. Welcome home words!

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