I have a fascination with maps.
When I was a little kid, I would spend hours looking at the maps in the encyclopedia set. Strangely-shaped islands, mountain ranges, mighty rivers—who knew what dreams these unknown lands might hide?
When I was a little older, I encountered a travel atlas, and maps took on a whole new meaning for me. They weren’t just pictures of where things were, I realized, but ways and plans to get from here to there. With the map, I could find all these places of mystery. It was more than realizing that other places existed—it was a sudden lightning flash of illumination that not only do these other places exist, but I could actually go to them.
Older still, out on my own and able to travel in my own car, and I had a travel atlas of my own. I am very proud of my own travel atlas. When I travel a new highway, I very carefully highlight that highway on my map. I want to know where I’ve been, of course, but even more so, I want to know where I have yet to go.
I see a map as something which tells a story. The lines on the map are symbols of journeys, and the journey is the story of a life—city to city, river to river, and all the fascinating stops in-between.
I know very little about my father’s family, but I sometimes suspect that they may have been of the Gypsy blood. For the road calls to me, and my heart yearns to follow—I wish to see the places I have never seen, the road that curves up and up through the highest mountains, the place where it slopes down to the western sea, the vast desert beneath the stars, woodlands and swamps and enormous prairies with their open sky-- small winding roads through small towns, the roads shaded gray in my travel atlas, the roads few people will travel. The road calls me to follow, to hear its story and the stories of all the lives who wander and intersect, and ever I seek to create this story, my own tale carefully marked out on the great map which is my life.