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July 17, 2012 8:21 am

CULTURE SHOCK: Maps: They don’t love you like I love you

Written by Dante Geoffrey

Planning OCD-inspired road trips

Settling into my one-bedroom apartment in Powell took all of one day.

My Subaru Outback — which is roughly the same size as my apartment — was haphazardly packed to the brim (do cars have brims?) with everything I own.

A bed, the one necessity I couldn’t bring with me from California (besides human affection) was purchased the next day in Cody.

In my bedroom: a bed, nightstand and filing cabinet.

In my living room: a nice chair to sit in pointed at a nice high-definition TV that’s hooked up to a nice cable that allows me to watch sports and awful horror movies.

Never mind the fact that my cable provider doesn’t carry ABC in HD. I don’t know what was worse, watching the Miami Heat ruin basketball, or watching the NBA Finals in standard definition.

Besides that, my apartment had everything I need.

But my walls were still shamefully bare.

I brought about a half-dozen framed concert posters and another half-dozen framed album covers from my previous apartment, and even though I love to shove my advanced taste in music (that you totally wouldn’t get) into the faces of new acquaintances, I didn’t feel like hammering a bunch of nails into my walls.

Instead, for purposes both economical and decorative, I bought a 72 by 48 inch wall map of the United States.

My plan was twofold.

First, it would take up a ton of wall space. This phase of the plan worked to perfection.

Second, I thought it would be cool to do that thing where you put pins in all the places you’ve visited, you know, like in movies or cop shows.

I was right; it would be cool, if only I was well-traveled. My lack of travel is made to look even worse by the fact that the common pushpin looks even more minuscule on such a ridiculously-dimensioned map.

But, the map does take up an entire wall’s worth of space, and the light greens and pinks and blues give my living room a nice, boring, classroom-look.

Now, that map — which has been looming just a few feet to the right of my TV for over a month now — has started to weigh on me. Every time I sit down and see that MLB network has chosen to show yet another Red Sox-Yankees game, I see that map and am reminded of just how much of America I haven’t seen. The vast expanse between the Powell, Chicago, Orlando and Dallas pushpins is taunting me. An enormous gap larger than Alaska sits there, as unseen and unknown to me as all of Europe’s most popular destinations.

Quick trips to Kansas City (red pin), St. Louis (yellow pin), Nashville (green pin) and the Twin Cities (two blue pins) would really fill in that space nicely.

I don’t have any statistics to back this up, but it seems like “travel” is the most common answer to America’s favorite hypothetical: What would you do if you had (insert amount of money here — adjust for inflation).

But no one ever gets that amount of money, and very few people seem to actually travel that much. Or when they do, it’s to beautiful-but-kitsch places like Honolulu, Paris, Cancun, etc.

There’s nothing wrong with those places (except for extreme poverty, gang violence and drug cartels, respectively) but I feel like dozens of interesting, fun, cheaper and more convenient places are overlooked. Hey, if St. Louis is good enough for Jon Hamm, it’s good enough for me.

If I’m not crazy, I’m certainly in the minority, because right now the Midwest and South seem like very desirable places to visit. Being born and raised on the West Coast has made everything east of Nevada seem somewhat foreign. And my move to Powell has really whetted my appetite for American exploration.

And then, of course, there’s that damn map. For some reason I bought four boxes of different colored pushpins, and the only way I’m going to be able to use them is if I start traveling.

That, or, through a series of sternly worded letters, I finally convince National Geographic to put Ralston, Emblem and Garland on the map — literally.

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