|My favorite map in storage is a bit like this, only cooler. It is a shipping route map, but with more of the world and in French. It is from the late 1800s.|
Like many of "my things", maps are now an anachronism. They are out of time.
Maps aren't needed now. The computer will show you where to go. Flying takes you past the things you don't want to understand and gets you directly to the end result. You used to have to get a street map of the city you were visiting, but now you often don't even need that to hit the high points or the clubs, just google where it is.
When I was younger, I liked maps and didn't think about it. Upon reflection, I had a father who, while always charming and usually good natured, was a bit of a mystery. He would change plans on a dime. He would marry and divorce on whim. We would move in the night or I would come home from school to an empty apartment and sit on the curb until he picked me up so I could go to our next place we lived.
If he didn't show up in an hour or so, I made my way to my grandparents.
I memorized the big streets between Hawthorne, Gardena, Inglewood and the Harbor Freeway when I was young, because we usually stayed somewhere in there. My grandparents lived on Vermont, between El Segundo and Rosecrans and, in a pinch, my mental grid could take me there.
And then, just when I had life figured out, he married a woman - whom I loathed just as much as she loathed me. But this one he didn't divorce or move out from in the middle of the night. (Actually he did leave her once when I was visiting my mom in North Carolina - I came home to an empty house and he apologized repeatedly, in reality I was thrilled. It didn't last, he went back to her.)
When I learned to drive - but had not yet learned how to fit in, I would drive to 2nd hand stores and pour through old Atlases and Maps (this was all before the internet and E-bay). It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out (in retrospect) that I longed for the structure I missed and so I created my own.
And I only collected old, out of date atlases. They were a constant reminder that reality changes. But, the best of them, could carry on the trace of beauty in their simplicity. They show the beauty in the spots we skip. The hidden treasures that we don't see if we don't look for them. And, even though the lines might change, the structure underneath did not.
I feel older than I am sometimes, because I still look for the hidden things and meanings. Not to find fresh wounds, but fresh wonders. I know that the un-discovered is fascinating - and the overlooked can be magical.
Nowadays, with Eddie, I get to look behind the maps more than I ever thought I would. And he indulges me more often than not. We have explored those crazy lands in the Balkens that traded sides over and over in my atlases. We have walked the streets in South America and swam the reefs in Australia.
Now I miss my maps - not as a tether to a reality I never had, but as a promise to dreams both fulfilled and unfulfilled. And I have a husband who tethers me in ways I never expected. So I am ok and my maps can stay in storage until we move to our new house next year.