Lost in the Parking Lot
(c) 2017 Annie C.
The realization that I am completely and utterly lost rushes through me like a hot flash. The rain changes everything, what was familiar is washed away in moments. Damaged retinas cannot make sense of the rings of light reflecting off the black asphalt. The downpour muffles the sounds I use to orient in the parking lot. I could very well be only ten feet from the door but at times like this, it is terrifying.
My dog is huddled beside me, I stopped asking her to help me 5 minutes ago, when it was clear she wasn’t able to lead me inside. Her docility was one of the reasons why she made a good guide dog but now the very same part of her temperament caused her to avoid making decisions, especially in the rain without her harness.
I remove the hood from my head to listen for a door opening, footsteps, traffic on the parallel street, or the rush of a train so I can figure out where we are. My white cane trails the parked cars and I turn into the empty space in-between two cars, hoping this is the walkway leading to the back door of the apartment complex. The cane tip touches the asphalt and like a divining rod, I hope to find the familiar. It hits a curb and I know it is not the right place; I go back to the row of cars and stand there, frustrated. My dog shakes off the rain.
Then, behind me and to the left, I hear the back-door open and the relief floods through me. By the sound, I am about 8 or so spaces away. I walk toward the spot and then a flicker of dim light flashes in the little window of my vision and I recognize it. My dog pulls me in the same direction and I sweep my cane forward ahead of us. The tip of the cane touches the metal drain and then, thankfully, the door. I fish out my keys, and then we are inside and my dog shakes off the water. As we walk to our apartment door, the frustration subsides. All it cost was five minutes of paying attention and a wet dog.