Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I've traveled quite a bit in countries where people drive on the other side of the road (i.e., the left), including renting cars and going on road trips in Australia.

People here frequently ask me, "was it hard driving on the other side of the road?"  And my answer is always, "the hard part isn't being on the other side of the road. The hard part is being on the other side of the car."

Because so much of driving is having a sense of where your body is and where the car is relative to the road and the other cars on the road. If you're used to being on the left side of the car, then you're used to having the bulk of the car on your right.  It affects how you instinctively position yourself relative to lane lines and road shoulders.

Plus inside the car, everything is in the wrong place.  My mom and I took a trip to Australia 11 years ago when she was stationed in Papua New Guinea, and we drove from Sydney to the Blue Mountains to look at waterfalls and beautiful scenery (it is one of the most gorgeous places on earth -- if you have a chance, go there).  And every single time I went to put on my turn signal by flicking the lever to the left of the steering wheel, I turned on the windshield wipers.  Mom laughed her ass off every time.  Until she did the exact same thing and I laughed my ass off at her.  Good times.

I was reminded of this watching Hurricane Sandy bear down on the East Coast.  I am an East Coaster at heart -- when I orient myself in my mind, I do so from the vantage point of Washington, DC and the surrounding environs.  Which is weird, because I haven't lived in the DC area itself for almost 30 years.  But I went to college in central Virginia, then North Carolina for law school, and then I lived in Atlanta for 13 years.  And it's where most of my friends and family are.  So when I think of storms hitting the East Coast, I think of them coming at me or hitting "above" me, to the north.

But this week, while my friends and family are dealing with the storm in Virginia and  Maryland and New York and coastal New Hampshire, I'm out west in the mountains.  It's sunny and in the high 60s/low 70s in Denver all week.  It feels very strange, not just to not be there, but also to remind myself that the devastation in New Jersey and New York isn't north of me, it's well east.

Stay safe, all of you.  I don't wish I were in harm's way, but if feels weird to be so removed from what you're going through.  Like I'm on the wrong side of the car.

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