sometimes i cry: a map

In the first week of this semester, my professor asked us to create an autobiographical map. He gave vague instructions about how we might construct one, and then asked us to bring whatever we came up with to class in a few days. When I mentioned my task to Christopher, he asked if my map would contain a river of tears (I was crying at the time—NOT because of the assignment).

When I considered his question, I imagined I might be more accurate if I just colored the paper blue, left off any hint of continent or island and handed in my map as a vast ocean.

I cry. Often, okay.

My map ended up looking less like a road (or ocean) map and more like a page of text—sort of in the spirit of John D'Agata's "Flat Earth Map," only shorter and less clever. I outlined some points of interest in the country of myself. And apparently, I charted them on a sad day because my map drew attention to my consistent experience of being talked over in large groups of people, moments in which my story trails off in the middle and nobody notices. That put a damper on the class-time show-and-tell.

But I included no river. And today, while thinking about maps yet again, I realized that my omission may have been a mistake. The river flows at a pretty constant rate around here. I might be sad. I might be happy. But the tear count remains steady. It is a permanent landmark.

I read the news today and noticed how many different ways people hurt or attempt to hurt one another: I cried.

I watched a video on my friend's blog of her wedding and remembered how good people can be to each other (and how fabulous her taste is): I cried.

I'm not going to create another map of me, but if I did, it might look something like this one, of the changes in the Mississippi River's course over time. The route or the reason might shift (can we say pregnancy?), but this river won't dry up anytime soon.

(Found this map at


Genevieve Beck said...

I know when I was pregnant, I cried when my husband brought home two pizzas that both had pineapple on them. I gave him a heads up before the tears started that they were coming and I knew it was silly.

janel said...

Pregnancy itself should be called "The Land of 1000 Manifestations of Water." Save money on female hygiene products; stock up on Kleenex.

Bryson and Tara said...

Bless your heart, Kath! I understand. Just a warning...the crying continues into motherhood least, it did for me. But, a lot of the tears are tears of joy, so that's good! :)

Megan said...

I think this is just the beginning of a lot more crying in life...and lots of it is GOOD crying! I think MY personal map would also be nothing but water right now. A couple of days ago I burst into tears when I couldn't roll myself out of bed.

I hope that you're doing all right and that pregnancy will soon turn into a fun experience, at least for a couple of months before you stop being able to roll yourself out of bed :)