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Ironically, although I found my footing in D.C., I ended up getting lost at home.  The day after our 13-hour drive back to Florida, I went to my friend’s bachelorette party.  A trip that was supposed to take half-an-hour (or forty minutes with rush-hour traffic) ended up taking two hours.  Yes, I became seriously lost.  

I took a left turn about five minutes too early, and ended up travelling down the wrong road.  Everything I know about Florida was embodied by this unintentional detour: secluded, wealthy subdivisions; golf courses; a town designed around a community of Northerners, who came here looking for an idyllic life (they even had an LED traffic sign advertising Zumba classes!); middle-class suburbs; sudden farmland and pastures; rutted roads and patchy grass; a tiny town with an empty gas station; and finally, the end of the road in a small grid of a neighborhood.

I’m a very curious person, and I’ve always wondered what the end of the road looked like.  That evening wasn’t exactly the time I wanted to find out, however, and the results were decidedly less exciting and mysterious than I had hoped.

Turning around, I retraced my steps through the cross-section, of Florida.  Even with my friend guiding me through Mapquest and cell phones (yes, I know I should have taken the GPS), I still needed to find an address for her to give me directions.  I pulled down a road that seemed the least sketchy and arrived at a small structure plastered with notices and signs.  Even though there were no lights on inside, there were dozens of cars parked in the grass lots surrounding the building.  I found this odd, wondering where all the people were.  Nervous, I turned the car around to leave.

As I did so, my headlights ran across a figure of a person sitting upright in a chair outside the door.  It took a few moments for me to calm down and realize that the body was merely clothes stuffed in the shape of the person.  In my panicked state, I wondered why someone would do something so twisted (sorry to those of you who do, I was really resentful for being scared).  With the full moon out, I could see a sign on a chain link fence that read “Police Pound”, and I started to wonder if I somehow stumbled across a secret KKK meeting. (My mother later explained to a calmer me that a “Police Pound” was a location for confiscated cars, not for anti-authoritarian hot spots)

“Jenn, what’s the address?” Kaitlyn’s voice asked over the phone.  Trying to focus, I looked for a mailbox…something that would have the number of the building.  Finally, over the door, I saw tiny numbers.  I read off the address to her and drove my way back to the main road as quickly as possible.

Yes, I made it to her party safely, and yes, we had a fun time.  The adventure (and frustration) were worth helping Kaitlyn enjoy the celebration of her upcoming wedding.  Looking back, even though I didn’t plan on getting lost, I’m glad to have had an hour and a half of reflection on my home state and its demographics, and to have an unforgettable experience.  And yet, I’m left with the underlying question: if I can’t even find my way around my own hometown, how am I going to survive in Germany?

Stay tuned to find out!