If you've ever lost your way, writes Kristin Eckhardt, you know how alone you can feel.
Kristin Eckhardt is the author of Lost for Words from the Secrets of Mary’s Bookshop series.
I’m what my husband likes to call directionally challenged.
I grew up in the city and used landmarks to navigate my way around town. If someone asked me for directions, I wouldn’t use confusing words like north and south. Instead, I’d tell them to turn left by the high school, continue three blocks until you pass the grocery store, then take a right at the Dairy Queen.
This method worked quite well for me, even after I married the handsome farm boy I met in college and we moved back to his family farm. The nearest town was four miles away and had a population of 500.
I loved country life and still used my landmark system of navigation, although the types of landmarks had definitely changed. The first time my parents came to visit, I gave them directions to our farmhouse: Turn left off the highway after you pass the round barn, keep driving on the gravel road until you see an irrigation well, then turn right and drive toward the two blue silos.
My landmark system worked just fine until one night in April.
I was driving home from the grocery store. The sun had set and a heavy fog had rolled in. The closer I got to home, the thicker the fog became. By the time I passed the round barn and turned onto the gravel road, I could only see a few inches past my headlights. I slowed the car to a crawl, feeling strangely disoriented. I couldn’t see anything, not even the road in front of me. Soon, I feared I’d missed my turn. It felt as if the fog might swallow me up and I’d never find my way home.
I’d never felt so alone.
I did eventually make it home that night, but I was shaken by the experience. The fog had made everything familiar to me just disappear.
That experience helped me write Lost for Words, another installment in the Secrets of Mary’s Bookshop series. It’s a story about a young woman with amnesia whom Mary tries to help. I still remember those emotions of not recognizing anything around me and feeling as if I might be lost forever, something an amnesia victim must feel every moment.
I may still be directionally challenged, but Lost for Words found its way straight into my heart.