He was never sure of his way before he met her. He wasn’t completely hopeless, though. He knew the theory. On paper he was brilliant. But for many years he navigated by himself.
He’d travelled with others before. A few times, if we’re being honest. But it seemed that they had directional issues too. He couldn’t begin to count the number of times he found himself getting off at the last roundabout before Bromsgrove.
The journey is just as important as the final destination, so they say. But he never really knew what they were talking about until she came along. She showed him the way.
“You men are all the same,” she said with a resigned air. “Always too bloody proud to ask for directions.” He was a little uncertain at the ‘you men’ aspect of her little speech. How many fellow travellers had she known? But he had no time for further doubt as she produced a diagram and proceeded to direct him.
It was an education. He began to read the signs. Really read them, for the first time. He’d never realised that there was more than one way to get to the same place. Oh, there’s always the quick route. Which is fine, if that’s what you want, and sometimes that does the trick. But sometimes speed is the last thing on your mind.
And he learned that sometimes it helps to play close attention to the scenery. There’s more to the trip than the waypoints, she would tell him. Think about every bit in between the milestones. And don’t be scared, she would say, if you feel the need to step off the path every now and again.
It’s been a few months since they started travelling together. He doesn’t recognise himself these days. But that’s no bad thing. He knows where he’s going and how to get there. Nowadays he flies past that last roundabout without as much as a backwards glance. Which is just as well.
Because once you’ve been to Bromsgrove once, you want to go there again and again.