"You always take all these back ways to get anywhere." Sandi has always been frustrated by how I drive us to Audubon Park for our daily walk, and pretty much how I drive anywhere. I avoid the interstate like the plague. I take the bus route, which is always the most circuitous, to work every morning.

But at the same time, the few routes I do know I know very well. In New Orleans, you need to know where the potholes are ahead of time, if you value your suspension. I know every dip and pothole from home to work. I know all the slow stop lights, when I can speed and when I will encounter stop and go traffic. I know how long it will take me to get from point A to point B, even if it takes 15 minutes longer the way I do it.

It's something you take for granted when you leave the area in which you are most accustomed to driving on a daily basis. It is the first way passersby can tell whether you know where you're going, the first true mark for a tourist motorist. Pedestrian tourists are much easier to detect. When I visit other people's towns and cities, they always drive. Shmuel mentioned that while I am visiting him in Grand Rapids next week, he may have to work and suggested I could take his car and do stuff on my own if I wanted. I don't. Getting lost on foot is far more fun, and it's at a speed I can handle. Thanks but no thanks.

I remember how vast anyplace I moved to seemed on the outset, how even Lynchburg College (having had an enrollment of only 1,500 when I attended) in Virginia seemed looming and scary for the first few months. Even on the ten mile long island I grew up on in Ocean City, Maryland, I didn't see the other half of it until I was at least 12 or so, the age when my mom felt comfortable letting me ride the bus by myself. But once I was, I knew every inch of it. Same deal with New Orleans. There are sections of it that I still have yet to see, but the sections I do know I know too well. It shrinks all around me, feeling like a cheap shirt that was never assembled to retain its shape.

This is one of the many reasons I want to move on.

There is also the fact that, by the moment you know your way around, ruts form, and you actually end up seeing only 5% of an area: the part that you have to go through.
When I lived in Milan I made en effort to take as many different (but reasonable) routes to go to school (or to work later).
Despite my best efforts, though, there are parts of the city center that I have never visited. Maybe one should draw a huge circle on a map, and then walk the streets that best approximate that circle, forcing himself to visit unfamiliar places.
In many parts of the world that could be suicidal, BTW.

Anyway, one of the things that I like best about getting to know someone is to be shown their version of the city: what is their idea of this place we share.

This particular phenomenon could also be linked to the general ease with which we slip into routine: some times try lying on the floor or climbing a chair, and survey your living room (or bedroom). It will be a different place, trust me.
Routine vision is probably the deadliest infirmity for photographers.

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