When I told Matthew about I Know Where I’m Going!, he said, “I already know what you’re going to write about.”

I asked, “What?”

He said, “You know.”  He meant the time I drove from Houston to Denver and nearly ended up in Oklahoma.  Or the times he’s sat quietly as the highway exit we needed to take passed by.  Or the time I drove around a mall parking lot for what seemed like hours, unable to navigate its labyrinthine entrance-exit system.  I am, as Matthew puts it, ‘directionally-challenged.’

While in Scotland this summer, however, I knew exactly where I was going.  I knew which bus to take (Lothian Buses #49, The Mary Queen of Scots) to get to Edinburgh from where I stayed in Lasswade.   I knew that Craigmillar Park, Mayfield Gardens, Minto Street, Newington Road, Clerk Street, Nicolson Street, South Bridge, and North Bridge were all the same road, and as I traveled along it (them?), I noted the bed-and-breakfasts dotting the route:  Thrums, Airlie, Heatherlea.  In the city, I navigated between music stores:  Hog’s Head, Avalanche, Underground Solush’n, Fopp.  I conquered the bend where Victoria Street becomes West Bow, and where a roast pig sits in the window of Oink!, its skin crackled and scored into diamond-shapes, awaiting my delectation.

But, to be honest, I lost my way once — just once! — my first full day in Lasswade.  I was walking from Hawthornden Castle to Bonnyrigg (which we residents had dubbed ‘the Brig’) for Internet access.  The map I had been given was a speckled and faded seventh-generation photocopy.  Streets faded at the edges.  Nonetheless, I made my journey, confident that I would find my way.  And I did.

On the return trip, however, I got turned about.  A landmark church somehow ended up on the other side of town.  I counted  intersections until I was supposed to reach the correct one, but they didn’t add up.  Still, I forged ahead.  This was, after all, suburban Edinburgh; I didn’t fear football hooligans or the Corryvrecken.  The sun didn’t set until well-near 10.

But it was getting late nonetheless.  I had nearly walked to Loanhead, almost 2 miles off course, and acres of grasslands opened around me, dotted by occasional patches of poppies, a red tide, when I turned back towards Bonnyrigg.  Still couldn’t find my way out. Flustered, I stopped into a pub, The Laird and Dog, where the locals regarded me with pity, curiosity.

“I’m trying to get to Hawthornden Castle,” I said.  The name didn’t register with the bartender or wait staff.  I repeated myself, slower, as if this would translate English into Scottish Gaelic.  A red-nosed bar patron said, “Ah!” and explained to the others.  The bartender looked at me — Why didn’t you just say so? — and explained the way.  Or so I think — his brogue was opaque, nearly impenetrable.  But I followed his hand gestures:  cross the creek? — no, bridge; turn left; keep going past the Polton Inn.  Can’t miss it.

I returned, just in time for dinner.  As it turns out, the Hawthornden Castle administrator had driven past me as I was striding towards Loanhead.  He had considered stopping and giving me a lift, but, he said, “You seemed like you knew where you were going.”

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