unfathomable cities

All maps, not just those illustrated mazes, contain an inherent tension between going and staying. We consult maps in order to leave: which highways to merge onto, which exit to make, which turn to take. But we also make maps to know where we are: to get our bearings, to grow roots. Maps orient us, help us see where we are. A map is often a route to remaining.

Like language, cartography is a miracle that insists the unique slice of universe we view from the perspective of our own minds and hearts is—against all odds—expressible. Our memories and feelings are communicable, circumnavigable. I can tell you “I am sad,” and you can navigate with me the choppy waters of sorrow. I can promise “I love you,” and, suddenly, we have mapped a route to remaining.

Read the full essay here.

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