Thursday, August 09, 2012

a sad place, of notebooks and journals—part two

We arrived home from our lovely and relaxing Cape Cod vacation on Saturday evening, after a day and a half of me stressing and pouting. Let us just say that I don't love transitions. I loathe them. I was cranky and irritable because I knew I had to pack up the house, drive home, unpack, send out the laundry, buy groceries, find a new nanny, and try to catch up on work—all the other things involved in transitions. How do I deal with such dread? I procrastinate. I find every reason to pour another gin and tonic and watch the oak trees sway. If only I actually relaxed while procrastinating! But no, I sit there with a gin and tonic and worry.

I suspect this condition is at least partly hereditary, passed down from my father and likely onto my son. All our biggest parenting challenges took place directly upon returning home after travel. So this summer I made a travel journal for him, with the hope this visual way to prepare for our trips would alleviate this acute transition disorder (ATD—I just made that up, but I'm sure it's ripe to included in the new DSM, along with a handy prescription medication to dull it).

Isaiah's travel journal follows our trips: our journey up to the Cape last month and then down to Spring Lake next week. I created maps of his room here at home, our neighborhood, and traced the road we would drive through Connecticut, Rhode Island, and onto the Cape. I made a map of our neighborhood in Chatham, Massachusetts. And, given that there hasn't been any sort of breakdown upon our return, I think it might have worked.

All this map-making inspired Isaiah decided to draw a few maps himself, one of which I've included here. He drew New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Hawaii, Cape Cod, a volcano, and some boroughs of New York. I was curious about one place on the maps Isaiah drew—an area he told me was "the sad place." You can see it below in the upper left hand corner of his map, it's a reddish-magenta triangle.

 Here is a closer look at my labelled rendition of his map:

Isaiah didn't seem sad while drawing The Sad Place, adding it rather matter-of-factly. I asked him to tell me more about it. He said, "It's where the tall buildings fell down." And then I remembered. On our recent trip down to Brooklyn we drove past Ground Zero, and I had told him it was a "very sad place." My comment seemed to have landed in his mind amid the volcanoes, Hawaii, and his beloved New York state.

I think it's nice: mapping a sad place. Creating a place to put the things we mourn, regret, or perhaps just things we can't comprehend. Failures, disasters, years that pass in emptiness or depression. We map them to remember them. We honor their place in our lives instead of ignoring or suppressing them. They are part of us, part of our story and our strength.

1 comment:

Marfa said...

That's amazing. Thank you for sharing his map of the sad place Ground Zero. ♥ Very touching. I admire your journal...I keep one, but this is very nice, more like a sketchbook, glue something into it...why not?