I have a phenomenally good sense of direction. Some people are visual learners, some are auditory learners . . . I’m a spatial learner (there are other options, too). If I write something down, my best bet if I’m trying to recall it is to try to remember where on the page I wrote it down, or the shape of the words. I can pack the back of a car (or a closet, or a refrigerator) with a minimum of both effort and wasted space. This means, too, that I typically know exactly where I am — I have a rough sense of how far I’ve travelled (by foot or vehicle) and generally which direction. I can tell you, almost anytime, which direction is north and in which direction any other landmark is to where I am.
But Vienna messes with me. It’s partly because there was a map outside of our first apartment here that wasn’t oriented north/south (who does that?) so my initial explorations here were all “off” in terms of cardinal directions, and I often find myself snapping back into this odd (and false) coordinate system. It’s also because I swear there isn’t a true right angle in this city (that’s also true in our house, which really takes some getting used to). I’m accustomed to knowing where I am, and naturally knowing which direction to go, but I find that nearly half the time here, my instincts are off (not usually totally wrong, just tweaked a little). It’s unnerving and it’s messing with my head.
It happened again this evening: we went out for pizza and ice cream, very near where we first lived when we came to Vienna. We took the train to get there, but since the evening was pleasant, we decided to walk home. I got us there, but we came out somewhere completely different than I expected. I’m just not used to it.
I’ve been discovering, however, that Benjamin seems to have inherited my sense of direction and space. We were walking down the street where we lived when we moved here. The building itself is not particularly noteworthy, but a block after we passed it, we crossed the Donaukanal, which is pretty hard to miss. Benjamin wanted to stop and look at the water, and the boats and all the people down by the water, so we did, and then we continued across the bridge. About 3/4 of the way across, he stopped, turned and looked over his shoulder and said, “Oh, that’s where we used to live” and pointed back down the street towards our old building.
I’m glad to see that one of us seems to know where we’re going.