Now that Christmas has passed, I can share one of the presents I gave Eric: maps of love, showing all the places we’ve lived and traveled together. I had seen some similar projects on Pinterest, but I didn’t know if I’d be able to pull them off. I used to work in a frame shop, so I know exactly how hard it is to cut a mat, and especially freehand, and I had no idea how I’d pull off the heart shape. So I just tucked these little ideas away and thought I’d tackle them later. But then I found these heart-shaped frames, and I knew I was back in business!
Maps are so important to me, and so is space, really: the frame in which we live and love. I adore the concept of personal geography, and that is what I was trying to capture in this gift: the routes we carved between our two apartments, the miles we drove between his parents’ house and mine, the places we made our home. I have been collecting maps for a while now for projects like these, so finding these frames was the golden ticket to making this happen! They are inexpensive unfinished wood frames, and, once again, here I am laying them out on the NYT. Old habits die hard.
There is no glass in these frames, but there is a hefty cardboard backing, which I used to cut the maps to size. The hardest part was deciding which part of the map to include. With the map of Kauai, I decided to go with the parts of the island where we spent most of our time on our honeymoon.
I did a bit of scrambling trying to find maps of Tennessee and Illinois, but then I remembered that I still had my tattered old road atlas in my car. The replacement of such items with GPS and other newfangled things is another topic for another day (oh, how I used to love to trace my finger over all the tiny little towns we passed by as a little girl!), but for today, I was just glad to have it!
The first map is of the Bay area, where Eric and I met four years ago over coffee on a rainy night, fell in love and began to build our lives together. We spent Saturdays in San Francisco and lived in Oakland, biking and busing in to campus for work. I lived there for seven years, and Eric for six, and it will always hold a special place in our hearts.
The next map is of Illinois, where Eric is from. It’s beautiful farming country, and I have so many incredibly special memories of the time we spent there with his parents. Going to the farm is always a treat, and I will never forget how magical it was the first time he took me home.
Pasadena is where we live now, and where we created our first real home together. Wherever we may wind up in the future, I think Pasadena will always have that newlywed glow. This isn’t all of the places we’ve been together, but definitely the most central ones, and I bought extra frames so that we can add new maps for places we travel and live in the future. I like to think of our love extending out over the country, putting up little road signs in the places we’ve lived and loved.