By Tori Morris
Disclaimer: Some of the characters belong to me; some of them belong to Aaron Sorkin, the WB, and NBC. Fanfiction is technically illegal, but I have fun doing it anyway.
Thanks: Props to Luna for encouraging me to write 'something different'. I don't know if this really counts, but, hey, I gave it my best shot. I didn't beta it either-bad me, but every once in a while, I write something I wouldn't change for the world.
Feedback is delightful and delicious.
She remembers when she started collecting the maps, like she remembers a lot of things, details that on the surface, seem unimportant to life. But she treasures this memory dearly, and holds it fast.
She was in her grandmother's Madison apartment, and she was young. Very little anyway, although the date and time escape her, it was some time after her grandfather's death. At this, she takes an aside and wonders if she's really that much older-it doesn't feel that way. But she knows time has passed.
The morning sunlight is streaming through the French laced curtains, which were the first things unpacked, her grandmother told her. She nodded, as her grandmother picked up the first box and carefully opened it. It was full of trinkets, from places far and wide. Her grandmother was a traveler, and even in her old age her worldly wisdom came off her, like steam.
She took three of the tissue and tape wrapped items and sat down on the couch to unwrap each one, with her hands that were covered in skin paper-thin, and Donna remembered her eyes widening as the packaged revealed a tiny porcelain elephant, with trunk raised high. Donna's grandmother said that a trunk raised meant good luck.
They unwrapped things-treasures and trinkets of trips gone by, all day long. One box was filled with maps, and she was amazed. In her mind, she can still hear her child's voice asking many questions-where did she get those?
Her grandmother's voice is lost to her, but she remembers that it had a hint of foreign allure. She explained that they were Eddie's, and the girl wasn't sure who that was, but the grownup knows she meant her grandfather. She tells the flaxen haired innocent that Eddie collected maps, like she collected elephants with the trunk up. She laughs, and Donna imagines that you can hear the echo of the young woman who was so in love, and tells an anecdote that ends with the line, "He said I could keep my lucky elephants, but you knew where you were with a map."
And she doesn't remember what happened after that, but she remembers wanting to collect maps too. She could always know where she was with a map, she thought, and her grandmother said she was practical-like Edward.
It's night time now, and she pulls out the large binder on top of the box, which is stored in a corner of her tiny apartment, and she looks for guidance. A page of clear plastic whooshes by, and in it, are maps. Maps on the back of a pack of matches, to a bar or club she went to once. Maps of theme parks, with a girl's pen scribbles on it, marking the rides visited and the shows watched. A map of the University of Wisconsin's Madison campus. A well folded road map that took her from Madison to New Hampshire, and then on to every other campaign stop. Maps of cities never visited but once, on the best plane in the world, and she can remember what she was doing there, but never the land marks, or the streets.
Just for fun, there is a map of Hawaii, and a map of the White House and related buildings she was given soon after the election. She has a map of the monuments, and a map of the subway, and a map of the museums. And there are maps that draw stinging tears, even now. A map CJ had in her purse, of the attractions at the Newseum. CJ wondered why she wanted it, and she never told her. A map she collected on her own, of the floor plan of the hospital.
She collects maps, like her grandfather. Not fine cartography, from sailing days of yore, but maps of the heart-maps that mean things to her. She's a cartographer like that.
And sometimes she wonders about the foolishness of it all-the collecting. The maps are reminders of things she's done and places she's been, and places she has yet to go. But they don't guide her. She needs something to guide her right now-she can't remember what she's doing, and it's hard, some days, to even remember how she got here.
She needs a map of the heart, to teach her how to navigate the turbulence that continues to this day. She needs to find higher ground, and she knows none of the maps she owns can help her find the future-they can only remind of the past. Not the cheap ones on paper, from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Even the maps of her grandfather, made by fine cartographers, real artisans, fail her in this respect.
Because, the map of the future, and the map of the heart, are apparently, maps she can only make herself.
Links: For further education on maps, go here: http://ihr.sas.ac.uk/maps/
The University of Wisconsin:
Madison, apparently has a very important cartography department. Who knew? http://feature.geography.wisc.edu/histcart/