Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Border Halves a Piece of Paper into Here and Hereafter

I'm afraid we're losing maps. Sure, we're GPSed and hand-helded to death, pinned to electronic locations that emit their echoey read glow wherever traffic might slow us down. But they're not maps, and I miss them already. The way they unfolded space for you, offered you more vistas and promises of their friends that could take you further. I was kind of a map geek as a child, reading possible further travel into them, ever surprised how they could predict what one could actually do -- that right turn is really waiting just up there after all. I'd announce to adults when they made wrong turns, plot routes, want, so, to be in the control I knew I knew. (Sure it had nothing else to do with anything else in my life I'd want that.) Maps were a key to the world, so I spent time mastering how to unlock them.

One might say, "But maps, they go out of date so fast!" And I'd say, "Yes, how wonderful." All the history in them, the freeway before the earthquake tore it down, the home town signalled by an ever-growing circle of commuter population, the open space now besmirched with the box mall and its piddling roadwaylets no doubt named after the trees that used to stand where they now run.

For as a child I loved them for history more than anything. Those wonderful American Heritage books with the elaborate maps of Revolutionary or Civil War battles, Antietam's acres alive with troops, and then not very alive at all. The map made it seem so pristine, somehow, so much part of a paper-y safe story. Years later I'd stand on that land and it was as if a book rose about me, and some curious and mindlessly malicious child stared down.

Plus maps can never be folded back correctly, a sign once the journey's out there's no containing it, that we must keep looking, for the way is there and won't be denied.

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Blogger Chari said...

I miss paper maps as well. Couldn't put my finger on the exact reasons why, but you've given all of them perfectly.

10:49 AM  
Blogger E-6 said...

For the life of me, I could never fold a road map back up.

8:35 PM  
Anonymous human about said...

good post. do u realize the activity of eating, illustrates the world n hereafter ?.
i added u in my link list, would u add me too. thanx.

8:36 PM  

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