‘Lucjan was working on a series of maps, sized to fit, when folded, into the glovebox of a car. He painted each detail with care, like medieval decoration on an illuminated manuscript. Every trade, he explained to Jean, had its own map of the city: the rat and cockroach exterminators, the raccoon catchers, the hydro and sewer and road repair workers. There is the mothers’ map marked with pet shops and public washrooms and places to collect pinecones, with sidewalk widths and pot-hole depths indicated for carriages, tricycles, and wagon-pulling. The knitters have their own map, with every wool supplier in the city marked. Lucjan made a map of exceptional tree roots, of wind corridors, and water runoff. He made a coffee map (with only one location marked), a sugar map, a chocolate map, a ginkgo tree map, a weeping willow map, a map of bridges, of public drinking fountains, of boulders larger than five feet in diameter. A shoe repair map. A grape arbour map, a map of kite-flying spaces (without overhead wires), a sledding map (hills without roads or fences at the bottom). Then there were the personal maps. The remorse map. The embarrassment map. The arguments map. The disappointment maps (bitter and mild). The map of the dead; the cemeteries built on vertical slopes. And the map he was working on when he met Jean – perhaps the most beautiful of all – a map of invisible things, a thought map, indicating where people had experienced an idea, a fear, a secret hope; some were well known, others private. An intersection where a novel was first imagined, a park where a child was first dreamed of. The beach where an architect visualized his skyline. The bench where a painter had a premonition of his own death. “How does one paint what is not there?” asked Jean. “One paints the place exactly as one sees it,” said Lucjan. “Then, one paints it again.”‘

- Anne Michaels, The Winter Vault.

I carry a lot of personal maps inside my heart. There are places I avoid, and places in which I am hit with a strong memory. Sometimes, when I return to a place, multiple strong memories are built on top of each other, and there’s a discordance. My heart is as much in the world as in my chest.

About these ads