Follow Up On my Accidental Foray into Politics
Thanks for the Link, But I'll Stick With Elderblogging

My Misplaced Location on the Planet

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 -


One of the reasons I don't want to move to Portland full time is that, to my mind, I'll never be able to travel to Europe again. It will just be too far. Did you really really Meet the Beatles while I was mooning over Paul McCartney?

Not to me. I think I am missing the gene for positioning. I always know where I's really a strange thing. I love my recalculating lady too, but G needs her not I. I do miss paper maps where the world is laid out before me.

Even living in San Francisco, Asia feels very fa-a-a-r. And it is. It was 23 hours (!) with headwinds to Hong Kong last fall. Europe objectively takes less time from the West Coast. But both usually seem impossibly far away.

What really screws my inner GPS up is to go south of the equator: South Africa and Patagonia did this. I felt quite disoriented.

I am not only disoriented geographically, but completely turned around in another town. I have no sense of direction at all and time differences really mess with my mind.

I am glad you moved to my side of the map now and please remember I am much closer and no longer way off to the left, but a tad to the right and down a bit.

Oh, yes! It happens to me, too. I am now in sunny Souther California. Moved here from Atlanta. Am still, after 8 years, trying to remember which side of me the ocean is on so I can get oriented! Sometimes I get motion sickness just trying to re-set the old brain's GPS.

And now, just as I'm getting comfortable, am planning on a trip back East to visit my kids and grandkids.

Only way I can keep things straight is to determine which way is north so I can establish which "coast" I am currently on. Let's see -- if I'm in Atlanta, the Atlantic is on my right so I must be on the East Coast ... sighhh. At this point my intellect takes over and over-rides my brain's confusion, I hope.

It always surprises me how close "far away" places are by air over the poles. I tend to think of traveling along latitudes the way a finger might trace a route on a spinning globe.

My internal GPS has been reset so many times in 75 years that my sense of place is wholly flexible. I just know that it's a l-o-o-n-g way from the middle of Iowa to most people and places I love.

Here's a little issue I have with our two U.S. coasts:

I grew up on the west coast and all those 40 years I lived on the east coast, it felt just WRONG for the sun to come up over water and set over land.

Now that I'm back on the west coast, all is well again.

I live in the middle of the Pacific, in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii, so everything is far away. Locally, my sense of direction is that everything is up the mountain or toward the water.
Hilo is on the East side of the Island, so we get the sunrises. Kona, on the other side, gets the sunsets.

In Chicago, the water is on the east; I quickly got used to orienting myself in relationship to the lake. Moved to California and suddenly the water is on the west - WRONG!
Like some of the others, I got a stomach ache trying to reorient myself.

Moving to Arizona (hi, Darlene! Yes, Ronni, we are down here to the right)made it worse - no water. People encouraged me to look at the mountains and orient myself to them, but they are all around our town and they all look the same.

I'm in Ohio -- the heart of it all -- everything up toward the lake or down toward the river. We're definitely flyover country. Japan? You can't get there from here. Europe -- same thing. We have to fly from either coast mostly or Florida if we want points South.

Sigh. I'm not complaining. I'm just trying hard to bloom where I'm planted will eventually be planted.

Jeesh, Ronni, I am so flattered that you mentioned me in your blog! I had better get it up to date - fast! I think I'll go with the travel/GPS theme and write about a trip that my 4 best friends and i took to the New York World's Fair in 1964- via Greyhound Bus from Spokane, WA!

I have lived here for 42 years, so my internal GPS is pretty well set in place. I don't know how it would be if we moved.

For about three years, we rotated back and forth between an apartment in San Diego and our home on the East Coast. My GPS suffered permanent and irremediable jet lag.

And, sad to say, as knee room in planes has shrunk, my conception of distance from airport to airport has had to stretch; distance = airmiles X misery.

I grew up on the East Coast, and moved to Oregon nearly 40 years ago. I think it's because I am still near an ocean, but on the other side of me, that I still have to pause before I am sure which way is North and which way is South.

I live in the most southerly part of Western Australia - everywhere else is North and a very long way from here! Five hours driving to Perth our capital which is the most isolated capital in the world! Coming here from Scotland almost 50 years ago was certainly like coming to the end of the earth - now when I travel I am amazed at how close everywhere else seems to each other. But distance and isolation certainly have their benefits - green forests,blue skies, minimum pollution, minimum traffic but thankfully easy access to the internet - so nowhere seems too far away now.

Because I grew up and still live close to Washington, DC, my internal GPS hasn't had a chance to get screwed up. But I will admit to a thrill of seeing the sun set over the ocean when I was in Laguna Beach once. It seemed so strange!

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