On August 13th, I applied at the local post office for my passport (book and card, let’s go the whole nine yards, I thought). And on August 20th, the passport arrived in the mail. I know, right? One week! I didn’t think it would arrive until October at the earliest. Well, I looked at every single page and I signed it and I filled in the appropriate blanks. I put it down and snapped a photo of it with my trusty old cell phone.
Then my breath caught – oh, the infinite possibilites that have just opened up before me! I can go anywhere on this planet! – and I just simply squealed with joy and excitement, dancing a happy dance. My dog still doesn’t understand what I was doing but that’s okay. She saw me being joyous.
I love maps and dictionaries. I love the allure of place names, near and far, and the journey a word has taken to join the 21st century English language. (If a dictionary doesn’t have the word heuristic listed, it isn’t worth a second glance, let alone space on my bookshelves. Go look it up. It’s a pretty cool word that I first encountered in a documentary on dinosaurs some 20 years ago.) Maps are full of dreams and potential and intriguing place names and funny ones, too. Let your finger trace a line from wherever you are to a place that catches your attention. Or close your eyes and place your finger, sight unseen, on that map and see where you’ve landed, and let your imagination run riot.
Before the mid-1970s, a lot of schools had maps (the roll-down kind) supplied by AJ Nystrom, and my grandfather was a salesman for that map company. One year he sent me a 6×4 map of the United States. My younger sister and I would remove that map from the thick cardboard tube and unroll it and I’d read out the states and cities and we’d make up stories. Each state was a different color. That was one of the seeds that got planted…
…and another one was when a film-maker, Robert Churchill, came to my elementary school to start work on a documentary. At the time, in 1964, my class had taken a field trip to LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) and we’d seen the newly-opened building with the white arches. We learned about airports and travel. Here, I am seven or eight and my teacher, Mrs. Alice Baldyga, and I are earnestly discussing Florida. (The documentary was titled “Silent World, Muffled World.”) Mrs. Baldyga was one of my favorite teachers and my mother saved all the notes she wrote and sent home with me.
Well, in planning my Iceland trip, I knew I had to have a map, so I ordered one on Amazon.com – but when I ordered a couple of guide books, I didn’t know they came with pull-out maps as well! I’m as happy as can be with these three maps!
I also looked at the flight path – I’ll take American Airlines from LAX to Denver and transfer to IcelandAir – and I was thrilled to see that the flight from Denver will go over or near the North Pole to Reykjavik! (If I see any reindeer making practice runs, with or without sleighs, I’ll let you know. Pinky-swear.)
Oh, the endless possibilities! I want to take my daughter to the coastal town of Kopervik in Norway, whence her father’s Jorgenson grandparents and great-grandparents came, for her 21st birthday. And I’d love to see Wales and Scotland and Ireland. Tuscany in the spring (see the movie “Enchanted April” and you’ll see why). The lavender fields in Provence. The wine regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy. Nepal and Tibet. New Zealand. Australia. The savannahs in Kenya and Mount Kilimanjaro (another enchanting place name). Wildly and most improbably, the Illyria region that is somewhere between Hungary and Yugoslavia. It calls out to me.
Where would you go, if you could go anywhere in the world?