we were in one of the first geography classes of seventh grade. that was the first year of middle school and it was all new, so raw after the cushiness of elementary school. the teacher gave out a blank map of the world, just a black outline, then asked us to fill in what we knew: any mountains, seas, names of countries and cities. Just another somewhat futile welcome back activity, something to get us all talking (which I'm sure he later regretted). To me it was funny, to stare at that black outline, it was so strangely familiar in a setting that was so new. In a way disorientating without the labels, but the shape was so known. I'd seen the pinup in a dozen different classrooms, studied it in too many dull math classes. By now, I thought I knew what the world looked like.
Nobody's outline was finished in the same way. I wondered whether it was the Caribbean sea or ocean, whether I'd placed the Scandinavian countries in the correct places. I'd been travelling for some time, already lived in 3 continents and visited more countries than I remembered but never really looked at a map in detail. I realised that I had drawn a little map in my own head, the outline strikingly similar to the one on the A3 sheet in front of me, but the details completely different.
The Alps to me were not just a chain of mountains that were drawn in a ribbon over Europe, but a snow covered landscape that was alive with the ringing of church bells in the valley, pine trees dusted with snow, timber chalets and gray fog. Standing at the bottom of the mountain at 9am, looking at the curves my family's skis had drawn in fresh powder, catching the first lift up. That Tanzania was not an arbitrary border drawn on the African continent but rather where I grew up, toddler feet stamping ants, running wild in a dusty garden, a place for beetle catching and watching the rains. The English Channel wasn't the empty white space between England and France but the route of my favorite childhood ferry crossing, where I'd get a balloon and stand on deck with dad watching the seagulls who rode on the hull, the white cliffs rising high under green pasture.
That blank map... this brand new blog. Comfortingly familiar, I've seen thousands of blogs pass my eyes. Strikingly new in its emptiness, but every little feature will be loaded with a story. I'll draw some mountains, ink in a few seas and maybe put down some borders. They'll be created by my own earthquakes, my own forests will grow, there'll be little roads and towns, a community will slowly build. A bit grand for a first post? Maybe. But now you're a little mark on my map, too. Hugs xx
[kindred-recipe id="1580" title="APPLE AND BLACKBERRY LOAF WITH GINGER AND HONEY"]