"Of course I remember that map!" my mother said. "I put it up on the kitchen wall and everyone laughed at me, but we must have looked at it ten times a day."
I'm sure it must have been our mean old neighbor--who accused me of twisting the head off a baby bird!-- who laughed at her, not everyone.
Last time I was home, I was looking at the top of the closet of my old room, wondering what might be left of me there. Not much. The map was on a shelf at the back of the closet, covered with dust and torn nearly in half. I'm not sure what year it was published, but it was hanging in our kitchen in either the late 50s or the early 60s.
I'd been wanting to change things in my office. I wrote an article a while ago about a designer who uses feng sui to make corporate offices more congenial. I was tempted to have her feng sui my office at home, but figured she'd tell me some things to do and I'd never do them and it would be yet another thing I'd wasted money on. But inspired by her, I went home and threw away my weight in magazines and papers and reorganized my shelves so that I could actually find things. I didn't want to disrupt my life enough to paint--even though she told me, "No one should have white walls!"--but I imagined painting them a sort of watery green. Then I realized that the map would fit quite perfectly over the window behind my desk. My husband taped it together, and we hung it with bread ties (or something like bread ties ).
Isn't it lovely? This picture was taken in late afternoon with the sun slanting in from the west, making the map look like stained glass. Behind it, you can see the window of many mullions that has made so many painters groan, also the vine that is slowly covering that side of the house and making the issue of painters moot. Now I know that the color I wanted for my office walls is the green of Afghanistan, Turkey, and Romania-- not the somewhat more garish green of India, Finland, and all of the United States.
When I'm groping for words, I stare at the world gone by-- that big yellow Soviet Union, the smaller fatalities of Zaire and Yugoslavia, also yellow, and pink extinct Rhodesia. It's quite possible that I'm learning all the wrong geography. I find myself saying, "Oh, that's where XXX is"-- then wondering if it too hasn't changed into something else.
On the right is the real Book of Marvels, still with me after all these years. On the left is my daily to-do list, not quite done.