disclaimer or something

A mummy-hand holding, (former) biker gang affiliating, hippie influenced semi crunchy granola mom's ramblings and reminisings on an off-kilter life

Friday, January 15, 2016

The cartographer's dragon

I seem to gravitate towards sci-fi or fantasy geeks, and always have. My friends growing up were the boys playing Magic cards and going to Renaissance Faires, the girls also at the Ren Faire; fantasy and sci-fi novels reigned supreme and still do among some of my friends.

But I have a secret.

I'm not that much into fantasy, Ren Faire, Sci-fi books.... 

But then again, maybe I am. Just in my own unique way.

As a child, I loved maps. National Geographic has always been a favorite, and the occasional fold-out map of some far away country was like an origami-folded Christmas gift of sorts. Just like with the Rand McNally Road map my parents carried in the back of the Jeep, or the Thomas Brothers LA County map my grandpa kept in the toolbox (for scoping out rental properties to fix), my fingers and eyes would excitedly trace every hill, river, toll road, and culdesac for hours at end. I would proudly try and twist my tongue to pronounce foreign outposts, memorize street maps of nearby towns, and study facts about the geography of wherever. 

I had a large cardboard child's atlas with cartoon icons n the maps (a four foot wide map of the USA with cacti in the west, oil fields near Texas, some very un-pc "Indian" person near Oklahoma.... I would imagine visiting the oil fields, the Indians, the cacti....I used the atlas as a slide, a building block, a place to nap, a table to draw on. I tried to match the bright icons to places on an outdated, rickety globe I found at a yard sale, and I'd dream of visiting places I knew little about: 12,000 tallest peak, 3 million people in the capital, icons for adobe huts..... I'd spin the globe for hours, closing my eyes, tracing my finger and seeing where I'd end up.

I even drew my own maps, twisty loops of residential streets complete with imaginary street names, home plots, driveways, and trees.

I created thousands upon thousands of little worlds in my minds, some based on reality, some completely fantasy, with made up residents, lives, life stories, adventures, scenic views.

This hobby even spilled over into my lifelong hobby of genealogy and postcard collecting, as well as my newer found hobby of: Google Map Street View. I will do as I did with the globe as a child, scrolling waaaay out, closing my eyes, clicking, zooming in. A rugged arctic outcrop in northern Russia, a busy street scene in Bangkok, rusty tractor parts in rural Romania, a caballero and his cows crossing a dusty Argentinian road. Every square inch tells a story I do not know but can only imagine.  Layers upon layers of history, of love and conquest, pain, beauty, silence. People come, people go, events of history imperceptibly change the environment. Millions of that-snapshot-that-moment scenes, experienced differently by each observer, never to be experienced again.

As an armchair traveler and pretend cartographer, I envelop myself in a fantasy world of wonderment based solely upon an image, a street name, a blank spot on the map.