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Arianne Brown: Run the town to know the town

POSTED: December 28, 2017 3:32 a.m.
Arianne Brown/

Arianne Brown runs in the foothills of her family's new hometown.

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Moving to a new town can be scary, especially when you don’t know your way around. This is particularly a challenge for me because I am what you would call directionally disabled.

Sure, there are these fancy GPS apps and systems that make things easier, but when you are as disabled as I am in this area of the brain, you still struggle.

Tell me to head north, I will head south. If you give me any sort of verbal directions, I will stare at you as if you were speaking to me in a foreign language because you might as well be doing just that. I might even add some tears in there to let you know how frustrating directions make me so that you will never speak to me with those words again, or ask me to drive anywhere I haven’t driven to a minimum of five times before.

And my condition is only heightened when I am asked to drive because my brain can’t process the landmarks I need to see quickly enough to make a mental note of where I am. Turns come too fast for me to remember if I went right or left. Try as I may to pay attention to my surroundings when I am in a car, it just doesn’t work.

Needless to say, when we moved to our new town, I spent the first week inside, paralyzed with fear that if I drove anywhere I would end up in a completely different state with my children in the back, forced to eat the stale fishy crackers and fruit snacks embedded in the seats until someone came for help.

Yes, I’ve thought this through, and, yes, I keep those crackers and fruit snacks there for that very reason.

However, as someone who has moved several times in her adult life, I know that there is one, and only one cure for this brain malfunction I was blessed to have: It is to run the town.

And no, I don’t mean to run for any sort of political office. That would not bode well for anyone.

What I mean, is to lace up my running shoes, and literally run the town from north to south, east to west; uphill, downhill; in the light and in the dark.

For the past week, I have spent several hours on the roads, passing stores, churches and running through neighborhoods. And if you have followed my column long enough, you know that I had to find some resemblance of dirt to run on, so I headed for the hills, and ran back and forth and up and down, scoping out the foothills from several different angles.

As I have done so, my misdirected brain has been able to soak in my surroundings at the pace that it needs to. I have been able to make mental note of landmarks, and I can see each small detail, or what I call “bread crumbs,” so that I can find my way back home.

Running this new town that my family now calls home, however, has not only given me confidence that I can drive my big, purple van filled with my eight vulnerable children back home to safety, but it has allowed me to appreciate more fully our new surroundings. My slower-than-car pace gives me the chance to wave to my neighbors, and say hi to children walking by. And as I run the town, I begin to love the town.

And boy, do I love this town.
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