Sunday, July 20, 2008


Men and women have different ways of orienting themselves in the unknown. Women prefer to use landmarks when giving directions. Men, on the whole, speak in terms of compass points, road numbers and distances. I love the REM song called Stand: "Stand in the place where you live/Now face North/ Think about direction, wonder why you haven't before". I keep a little compass in my pocket. I use it to check the direction of taxi routes compared to my expectations. I use it when we are hiking to ensure we are going in more or less the right direction. But mostly I just use it because I like to know where North is. I like to picture us, in my mind's eye, superimposed on the little globe that sits in our living room back home.

Letizia likes to tease me for my y-chromosome ways. "Which way is the river?" she says, echoing a question I often ask myself aloud when reading city maps. Compass points leave her cold. But for once now, and for the next several days, we will both instantly know in which direction North lies. Even without a compass. North is the front of the bus.

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