the june 1957 national geographic map of europe my ex gave me still hangs at the foot of my bed — outlasting the relationship and the sentiments of love he wrote in tiny letters over my village in the then ukrainian ssr territory. i thought of taking it down after the relationship ended badly, but the beauty of the map almost means more to me than its prior romantic sentiments, and i couldn’t imagine my wall rid of it. it’s the first thing i see when i open my eyes in the morning and often the last thing i see at night. i run my hands over the old tattered paper, marks where it’s been previously hung, slight tears in the folds. the colors of light blues, greens, and lavenders sooth and the aged paper charms.
another traveler marked their european tour with thick red crayon. crude red arrows entering from beyond the map, making its way about europe, weaving in and out of countries, and then leaving again. i’ve wondered about the person who, crayon in hand, dreamed up such a journey. i wonder if they actually went all those miles, following the waxed trail, wonder where are they now, and if i too should follow their path. all of this might seem silly to think or feel about a map, but old maps have a special place in my heart, this one included, this one especially.