Draw a map of where you’re from … from memory. My memory of where I’m from is a pounding thing, a rhythm of two beats. Flat. Flat. And … you don’t belong.
We’d moved here and I was stuck here until I was grown − stuck here forever. I didn’t belong and I couldn’t escape. It was too hot in summer, too cold in winter, inhabited by mockers and sneerers and always, in every direction, it was too flat.
Then one day, in the car, casually, over his shoulder to me, straight-legged in the back, my father said, “Long ago, this used to be the bottom of a great inland sea.”
It felt like a warm flood of blood. I was too young to think philosophically but viscerally? That I could do.
There’s more to here than now. There’s more to me than here. I could − would − escape.
How do you draw a map of flat? The image in my mind wasn’t regulation looking-down-from-above, so could I say it was a cross-section of a map? I looked up how to go from a topographical map with contour lines to a cross-section. Which was interesting, but not if there aren’t any contours to begin with. A straight line, and then a straight line with some wiggly lines above it − pretty simplistic, wasn’t it? But that moment of … what? − mind expansion? − was simple. Mysterious, hard to describe, but still simple. This was not all there was.