Of Travel and Maps

I love the Defocus blog by Jeremy Nixon. He has this ingenious visited maps generator that I’ve used from time to time. You can see both here: https://www.defocus.net/visitedstates/

I’ve created this map a few times, but was too embarrassed to post it due to its emptiness. Mostly of which is attributed to a lack of resources from my family. Not only did travel seem expensive to them, but my mother only received five days off of work a year. I sat at home while my classmates went anywhere from Pennslyvania to Paris. So as a new adult-in-transition, I set out to make my own adventures.

After I notched Kansas and Colorado from my research trip, Arizona from the service trip, and Oregon from my excursion to Portland, I decided to create the map as it can truthfully be in the present. I put Ohio as red because I don’t recall it, having lived the first year of my life in Columbus.

Now Map

As I mentioned before, I had an influential African-American history professor (though the class was short-lived) who likes to ask his students, “where do you see yourself in five years,” so I then created a map of how I would like this to look like in five years.

map in 5 years

In explanation, in five years I will expect myself to be preferably a permanent resident of British Columbia or at least a former exchange student. I plan to take a cross-country trip, which was why I checked Texas and Oklahoma. As for where it continues through after that, I don’t know. I want to see D.C., so I checked off Virginia. Of course, I also want to see Seattle, Hawaii, and revisit my birthplace of The Ohio State University in Columbus. I have friends in New York, Chicago, and Detroit that I want to see.

Having finally obtained, for the first time in my life, a regular credit card (with no foreign transaction fee) and an internet plan for my phone, I’ve felt like I’ve made some solid strides toward adulthood. For some, that might seem laughable for a 20-year-old woman. I secured the credit card by myself to avoid borrowing from my parents and pay $30 each month for the internet plan to avoid getting stranded in the dark at Los Angeles. I never really had the liberty to swipe my expenses away or take for granted technological gadgets that were rarely received and often earned. Much of what I accomplished was with little financial help from my family, though they did encourage me to become independent. I took that same mentality to travel, doing a lot of it for free through grants, sponsored trips, and travels on my own money.

The map here only encompasses the United States and Canada. Despite the rugged and historical beauty of this country, I hope to see beyond this terrains of this map. Right now, the hypothetical world map is mostly an empty coloring book, with splotches around North America. But when it’s finally colored in, at least it’ll be from the crayons and paints of my own ambition and savings — not red envelopes of bravado that one throws away after obtaining the experience.

For now, I’ll collect the remaining benefits of my travel bookstore job and continue exploring Los Angeles. But with travel guides in my bookshelf, and pockets filled with cash and a working GPS, my feet will be heading towards the future manifest destiny.

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About Amy

Amy is a freelance writer and artist based in LA. Her hobbies include romanticizing her world, having too many moody thoughts, and wandering through neighborhoods she's never been in.
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