What are we if not stories? It’s one of my favorite analogies out there. People=books. And like any good book that spans time and space, we come with a map on our first few pages. When I was a teenager, I imagined what it might feel like to be in love and always came back to the same idea. To love someone was to plot their map. Travel by it. Visit its landmarks.
Some of our maps may be mythical lands like Middle Earth but mine looks like the world as it is with only a few exceptions – imaginary islands I’ve secluded myself to, and if you look close enough, imaginary horse stables, fairy rings, and time machines in the backyard of my childhood home.
However alike or unalike the topography of our maps, the real difference is in the key. There you’ll find landmarks, or memories. Some are small and close together, like the high concentration of landmarks in my hometown. Others are larger and farther apart – places I’ve traveled to and how those trips changed my life.
I hesitate to say which landmarks are more important – big or small, clear or vague. I’m not even sure that they all have something to do with my story, but then again, I’m not sure they don’t.
When you really love a book, you read and re-read it. You pore over its map. Why? Because any good cartographer knows that maps hold secrets. They give you context. They solidify your place in the story you love so much.
Some quick and dirty destinations of my own:
I would take you to the school playground where I bummed around in the summer. I remember so vividly how I’d swing and swing, silently talking myself into buying a train ticket and leaving town. I thought I’d write about my travels on bits of scrap paper and napkins. (Say hello to my Hunter S. Thompson phase.)
I would take you to the creek-side trails I walked as a kid where I built forts and hideaways, marking them with random treasures (beer cans, wooden crates, old bullets). I literally hung up a moldy bra I found in the woods and called it “the flag of this proud nation.”
I would take you to the little neighborhoods I only ever knew in drunkenness where I laid on the pavement, leaving the party to be by myself. I’d stare at the stars, hoping something big would happen to me right then and there.
My landmarks have mostly gotten stranger and more complicated, darker and more dangerous – my very own Mordor, Mirkwood, and beyond the wall. But sometimes I still believe that love might be as simple as hopping in the car with someone who wants a tour of your world – the romantic reveries of small-town life and the big dark burn marks you’re too scared to recall.
How is that for your daily dose of cheese?
Cheers. Love yinz.