Which way’s up?

One thing that has frustrated me since coming to Toronto is that I’ve had a really hard time getting my bearings. During my second week here, I walked 15 minutes east on Queen St. after Graham gave me specific instructions to go West on Queen

Despite people’s good-natured advise of, “just look for the tower,” things have unfortunately not improved. I still get my East/West and my North/South mixed up. It can make getting anywhere a challenge without a GPS.
It occurred to me this morning that it could be very simply a water thing. I’ve lived in two cities on the west coast where the water is on the left coast. Not always within sight, but always within sense. That seemed obvious enough, except for the fact that SF has water on both sides. Certainly not enough to confuse it with the ocean, but it’s ocean water and if I was only sensing it, not seeing it, then the left coast thing didn’t make sense.

What did make sense though, is the fact that both SF and Vancouver have water surrounding their top perimeters. I have always associated this top portion of water with the direction North, (because it is, North Vancouver & Marin County).

Now, that portion of water which is clearly on my up/down axis (Lake Ontario) is being interpreted by my brain as the city’s NORTHERN body of water, when it is in fact to the SOUTH. Therefore, I go east when I should go west.

1 Comment

helenoApril 12th, 2006 at 5:05 pm

And where are the mountains! It was definitely the lack of mountains that I missed as a sense of which direction I was traveling in. But, the tower did help in adjusting my sense of "where the hell am I?".

It could be worse, imagine if you were living on an island! 🙂


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