I have been held hostage by the city of Indianapolis twice in the past two weeks and God and all the holy angels and saints have turned a deaf ear to the sinister demands for ransom.
I got lost with Meelyn and Aisling and their friend Theresa on foot in downtown Indianapolis while looking for the Indiana Repertory Theater where we were supposed to see Macbeth, which I could not find even though we walked eleven blocks and were never more than three blocks away from the theater at any given time. The problem wasn't the driving -- I got there just fine, having used a series of index cards to make complicated instructions to myself; also pencil-drawn pictures of the city's grid of streets.
I should have known that this would fail me somehow, because what else can you expect from a city where the street named East goes north/south?
No, the problem with finding the theater is that we turned right instead of left when we left the parking structure and we were then off with a brave tantivvy to go around and around and around and around and around and....excuse me...until we finally wound up on Monument Circle where I sat on a bench, gazed for a bewildered moment at the pigeons doing their funny, jerky walk on the pavement, and then proceeded to have an anxiety attack which featured:
1. snuffling sobs
2. an inability to draw a deep breath
3. a crashing feeling of impending doom
4. a certain feeling that I was going to faint
I told Katie later that I did have the presence of mind when I started seeing those weird electric gnats that signify a fainting spell to lean back; we recently had to cancel our dental insurance and with my luck, I felt that it was all too possible that I might pitch forward and break out my two front teeth. Meelyn called Katie's house and Katie's daughter Mary called Katie at the theater and Katie asked the group of concerned friends and students who were apparently gathered around wondering WHERE THE HECK I WAS if any of them had my cell phone number. Jane did. So Katie called me on Jane's phone and when I answered, gasping, she said worriedly: "Are you laughing or crying?"
"Oh, dear.....Are you going to be all right?"
"WHERE ARE YOU?"
"Are you in your van?"
"Do you know where you parked?"
"SHELLEY, GIVE THE PHONE TO MEELYN!"
Katie asked Meelyn if she needed to dial 911, but Meelyn told her I was okay (she's never seen me having a panic attack before, and truthfully, I don't have them often anyway, so in her way of looking at things, I was just tired and stressed out and worried and frustrated, which pretty much describes the reason why people have panic attacks in the first place.)
Katie and Melanie left the theater and came and got me; I managed to force myself to breathe deeply and suck my tears back into my eyes (thankfully, it was a sunny day, so I was wearing my great big sunglasses) but I was so glad to see them, I started crying all over again. Katie and Beck walked us back to the parking garage after the play and every time I tried to thank Katie, I kept bursting into tears all over again and the parking cost $14.50 and Theresa probably went home and told her mother that Mrs. McKinney is a lunatic.
So today, Virginia invited us to go to the Indiana State Museum with her and her kids. She told me it was easy to get there and I was very excited to go, so I voluntarily turned myself loose on Indianapolis once again, as if I hadn't learned my lesson the first time.
Everything was fine on the way there, since I was following Virginia. We had a great time walking around the museum and we had a fabulous lunch (best pastrami we've ever had). Virginia and her kids are lots of fun to spend time with, so everything was rosy until it was time to leave. Virginia and her three little ones were headed for home in Greenwood and Meelyn, Ailsing and I plus Virginia's two older kids were going to go north to the Indianapolis Museum of Art where we were going on a tour at 2:00.
Keep in mind that the trip from downtown Indianapolis to the museum of art should have taken roughly ten minutes, even with traffic lights. But I somehow goofed up Virginia's directions and wound up heading south on Meridian Street, winding up in a neighborhood that even discerning meth cookers and crack dealers would eschew. They would eschew it, but I was schewing it all over the place, trying to find somewhere to turn the van around where it seemed the least likely that we would make the evening news for being shot.
"Well!!!!" I said brightly to the children, "look at all the pretty colors that gang tagger has painted on that house! That certainly looks bright and cheerful!" I gulped and stepped on the gas, heading back north at a smart pace, trying to make my head look as much unlike a target as possible.
When we got back inside the confines of the city, I instructed the children to look out for Monument Circle, because if I knew where Monument Circle was, it would be a lot easier to know my way out. Monument Circle is pretty hard to miss, mostly because of the big honkin' MONUMENT in the middle of the CIRCLE, but do you think any of us could see it? No, we could not. So we went on our merry way of criss-crossing the entire metro area with no hope of getting out, passing the same landmarks first from the south and then from the west and then from the east and then from the north until I finally tossed Meelyn my phone and begged her to dial Katie.
Katie, thank heaven, was at home. She got out her city map and presumably spread it across her kitchen table, where she talked me out of the city. It grudgingly let me out of its clutches and we arrived at the art museum a mere forty-five minutes late. Since we'd only been driving in circles instead of walking, I had no need for an anxiety attack, even though I am the world's biggest hypochondriac. I had already done my share of walking for the day at the museum, however, so my cane and I limped into the cafe where I spend a few moments looking at the menu, trying to figure out if there was any way to order two Tylenol and a shot of Jack.
I am SO getting a Garmin for Christmas.
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