Sunday, October 4, 2015

On Driving in England and Being Held Fast

Driving in England can be a bit of a challenge.  Here are a few things that make it difficult, especially if you're living in a more rural setting as we are:
  1. Places to turn around are rare and hard to find.  If you miss your turn, tough luck.
  2. Places to pull over and park for a few minutes are rare...and hard to find.  And you need places to pull over and park for a few minutes because talking on your phone without a hands-free set is illegal.  So when people are wondering where you are and trying to reach you, you're unable to answer the phone until you find a place to pull over.
  3. Country roads can be especially narrow and are usually hemmed in by hedges.  Sometimes it feels like you have to decide if you'd rather lose your left side mirror to the hedge or your right side mirror to a passing vehicle.

James had a birthday party to attend on Saturday, and since KJ was out cycling I took Ella and a friend along.  Right before heading out the door I was unable to locate the GPS.  I made the assumption that KJ had taken it along with him, so after a cursory glance at Google maps and quickly putting the name of the town (I thought) into my phone for emergencies I set out.  Google Maps guessed it would take me 20 minutes to arrive at my destination.  One hour and 10 minutes later we were parked in a neighborhood in I know not what village, awaiting rescue.

Our experience has been that you can get hit with potent reminders that you're living in a foreign country--a country that is not your natural home--seemingly out of the blue.  It usually happens when you're doing a simple task that you are used to doing on autopilot without having to think too much, like going to the grocery store or driving your kids to a birthday party.  Without much warning you can find yourself feeling completely lost, sometimes figuratively and sometimes, like for me on Saturday, completely literally. 

During the "lost" times I can feel lots of different things.  The sheer number and wide variety of emotions I've experienced in our cross-cultural move has been one of the hardest things about it.  It's in the emotional times especially that I'm thankful for truth found in the Bible, something unchanging my soul can find rest in no matter if I'm lost in the middle of farmland or just wishing for the familiar aisles of Wal-mart.

" You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways...
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast."
- Psalm 139:3, 8-10 -

In the end, I discovered that KJ didn't have the GPS after all but that in cleaning up for James's party I had put it away in a new place that I then forgot about.  On the positive side, I got in some good driving practice both on the motorway, in the middle of nowhere, and in tiny villages.  For a woman who has her practical driving test coming up in a couple of weeks that's ultimately a good thing.

P.S.  Whenever we miss the way things are done in America, we like to counteract with something positive we love about the way things are in England.  In this case, it's certainly not England's fault that I don't know my way around.  So here's something I enjoy about driving in England:

People use their blinkers/indicators more intentionally.  You have the odd driver here and there but on the whole, drivers seem much more conscientious about using their blinkers than in my experience in America.

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