Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Up or Down?

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The beautiful spring weather has brought family bike rides back into our lives, as well as reviving an old argument that Pete and I have had for as long as we've known each other.

While out for a ride the other night, I called out to Sophie (who likes to be the leader), "Turn up the street, Soph!"

From behind me, I could hear Pete utter, "Up is not a direction."

But, clearly it is because Sophie knew just what I meant and turned right, which was definitely "up" on this particular street. You see, I grew up using "up" and "down" as directional words, especially in regards to the street on which I lived.  The Stones lived up the street from us and the Swearingens lived down the street. It was as simple as that. Although, Pete says that this theory only applies to towns that are located on a hill, such as the one where I grew up, and people like him (who grew up in a very flat farm town) can make no sense of it.

I don't, however, only equate "up" and "down" with hills. Our previous house was on a completely flat street, but I would say "go down the street" to indicate the direction where most of the "stuff" in our neighborhood was. For example, the park and the ice cream shop were obviously "down the street" from us.

You might think that "up" and "down" would correspond to the directions of north or south, but they don't. Our new house, which is on a hill and therefore evidently "up" the street, is actually to the east of the main road. Also, in my hometown, there is a street that runs north and south, but if I said I was going "down River Avenue," I would actually be saying that I was traveling north, and conversely, if I said I was going "up River Avenue," I would mean I was traveling south.

Okay, so now that I'm trying to explain this, I can see where it might appear confusing. I would say that "up" or "down" is something that is so ingrained in my way of thinking that determining whether a direction is up or down is more of a gut feeling at this point.

A feeling which, even after a decade of marriage, Pete has not become accustomed. Because every time we exit our driveway on our bikes and I call out, "Which way should we go: up or down?" he mumbles and shakes his head.


  1. Great Slice! Love the ending with your husband just mumbling and shaking his head at you. Your directions make perfect sense to me. That is why we go "up to the lake house" every summer, which is perfectly due east and not up at all.

    My husband is already teaching my girls - who are only 4 and 6 years old - to say north, south, east, or west as opposed to left and right. He's a stickler for directions.

    1. Thank you, Dana, for justifying my directions! I hope you enjoy your trip "up" to your lake house this summer!

  2. Loved the post! My best friend lived "up the street" and that mean lady that never gave out Halloween candy lived "down the street" so I get it!

  3. I could so relate to this. Growing up I would go down the road to visit my friend, Toni and up the road to visit Debbie. Or, my mother would say, "Go down to Mr. Walker's and see if he has any tomatoes." Hmmmm, I wonder if it is a male/female thing. Thanks for the memories.

  4. Has he not heard of "uptown" and "downtown"? You're clearly right about this one!

  5. Hahaha, I love it! And I use 'up the street' and 'down the street' all the time. I feel like 'up the street' is the direction you usually go and 'down the street' is the other way. Really doesn't make any sense at all but who cares!