Getting lost on purpose

Sarah James

En route to a craft bazaar last winter, my friend Nikki and I took a wrong turn somewhere in an unfamiliar part of Cleveland off of Interstate 90. I was delighted at the opportunity to get lost. I embraced the prospect of discovering something completely new within my own city.

After a few blocks of Cleveland’s signature depressing, yet charming urban decay, we spotted a gem: a lawn mower repair shop with an attached junk store. We locked eyes, and I instinctively pulled over.

Truthfully, I love getting lost. There is nothing scary about it; gravity is still in effect when you find yourself a few miles off course from where you aimed. At no point are you ever in danger of falling off the earth. Often, the best places are off the beaten path.

Once inside the junk store, we found an endless array of absurdities. Gutted floral furniture, boxes of bottle caps and piles of ’70s porn lined the pathways of the musty storeroom. Although we each walked out empty-handed, we vowed to come back when it came time to decorate our house.

When we attempted to return to the junk store this fall, we got lost again. This time, we were led to a giant heap of trash spilling onto the street. Upon further inspection, we noticed that the bags were filled with clothes and various papers. We looked around to make sure no one was looking and threw the bags into the trunk of my car.

Later, we donned rubber gloves and methodically sorted through our finds. Among the bills, prescription bottles and brand new business suits still on the hangers, I found the one thing I’d always wanted: a photo wallet complete with pictures of grandchildren. Had I not gotten lost, it would have taken me years and a considerable amount of work to acquire such a collection.

Getting lost allows you to see things that you wouldn’t ordinarily see if you were on course. Who knows where one might find the perfect patch of grass to waste away an afternoon, and who knows what kinds of places exist off the main drag? As a result of suburban sprawl, many of us don’t take the time to look around at what is really there. Getting lost allows you to be more aware of your surroundings, as it teaches you to stop and look around to regain familiarity.

Next time you succumb to asking for directions, ask to be lead to some place cooler. Ask where the best burger in town can be found. Ask if there are any places you can go to watch nature unfold before your eyes.

There are a million things to find if you dare to deviate from the same four roads of Kent you are accustomed to. There are parks. There are people. There are adventures to be found.

Take a hammer to your Tom-Tom. Fill up your gas tank and just go. Hang a left, take a right and then turn left again. Drive for miles. Let me know what you find.

Sarah James is a junior public relations major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].