The Map of the World
When I was young, I loved maps. Still do. On long road trips with the family across TX, through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, or tediously progressing through the monotonous cornfields of the central plains, I had a map. The world in my lap. Dots and lines, squiggles and symbols. A secret code which once unlocked revealed the universe. Atlas at home. Globe in the bedroom. So much to discover. So much to see. So much to understand. But above all maps there stood one. The map of the world.
It hung in the foyer of my Nanny and Papa’s lake house, home to countless Christmas Eve’s and Easter egg hunts, July 4th barbeques and Mother’s Day cookouts. It was the first thing you noticed when stepping into the hilltop, red-brick ranch-style home. Well, the first thing I noticed. The red-brick outside reaching into the house to become the floor. And there by the door, the map. Now others might say that red-brick floor drew the eye forward to the wall of windows brilliantly displaying the forest beyond and the lake below. But I had eyes only for the map.
Countless pins marked its surface from border to border. Pins puncturing the earth in yellow, red, green and blue. Not the big clumsy push-pins of today, but long, thin, graceful pins with a small ball of color on the end. In an elegant box centered at the bottom of the map, as though floating in the South Pacific, as a continent of its own, existed the most compelling and mysterious phrase; The World Travels of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Crouch.
There I would stand exploring the world in its color-coded fashion. Each pin an adventure. Each city or location exotic and foreign. My tongue untangling the letters as though by saying its name I could tranport myself. Sounding out words like Lima, New Delhi, Stockholm, Cape Town. What was it like there? What did the people look like? Sound like? What did they eat? How do they live? Each place a mystery. I needed only to break the code to reveal their secrets.