1. You look at a map of a city you’ve never been to.
You see patterns and street names and they tell you nothing. The map remains dead, the city unknown.
2. You go to the city you’ve never been to.
It becomes a city you know.
3. You look at a map of a city you’ve been to, but have left behind. As you look at the map, you remember.
You are looking at nostalgia. You walk through street names and remember the taste of cake in the café whose name you forgot, but you remember its yellow walls and comfy chairs. A square is no longer four lines on a map, but an open space with people and statues and laughter and a fountain in the center. The monotonous, two-dimensional blue that indicates an ocean turns into postcard memories, so many shades of blue and green and the smell of salt and fish. The famous building with the famous name that everyone knows is now a personal experience, it is yours and yours alone in a way that will never make it anyone else’s. A billion feet have walked these (now familiar) paths and two of them were yours. You can trace the steps you have taken and you remember feelings and colours and strangers who offered you a smile. There is the hostel you slept in, there is the river you crossed so many times, there is the corner where you listened to the most amazing street musician. You fondly whisper street names that you had trouble pronouncing when you first spoke them, clumsily. You connect dots, and they turn to images in your head.
The map is alive, the city an old friend.
4. The map you look at is always the same; the perception is different. It is you who has changed.
p.s. // every time i look at a map I have a feeling that is hard to put into words