The Suitcase Lady


December 1, 2009, 8:04 pm

I won’t be getting a GPS for Christmas. Everyone who knows me realizes I would rather be hopelessly lost than take directions from a disembodied voice on the dashboard.

I’m a born traveler and a lover of maps. My road atlas is dogeared, coffee stained, marked up and tattered. I agree with Van Gogh who wrote, “The sight of stars always sets me dreaming just as… those black dots on a map set me dreaming of towns and villages”.

My very ancient ancestors were capable of navigating by the stars. I figure the least I should be able to do is read a road map. Not only do I want to know where I am on the planet, I also want to know where I am in relationship to the other places on the sphere.

The only way to get map smart is to use maps. Practicing anything involves taking some wrong turns. I’ve seen plenty of interesting new scenery and places thanks to my map reading errors… no permanent harm done.

My work of the last 23 years has involved driving about 800 miles a week and showing up on time at hundreds of different schools and libraries in three states. I pour over maps beforehand, plotting the best routes. Then, I add extra travel time to accommodate detours, rotten weather, traffic jams and unforeseen events such as an entire tractor trailer of green peppers dumped out onto the highway.

One of Robert Frost’s famous poems includes the line, “But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep…”.

I hope so. There are many more maps and miles I want to explore.

3 Comments for this entry

  • richie

    the people will follow the GPS right off a cliff if it tells them.
    people, just waiting for instruction. unable to think. scary.

  • evi robillard

    Oh, Mary–I SO agree! We learned it all in 4th grade, didn’t we? Or was it 5th? xxxevie

  • Mary

    I loved my grade school geography books and wanted to visit every place we studied. Now, teachers are supposed to “incorporate it into other subjects”.
    Many of the children I do programs for can’t tell me the name of the country they live in.