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Personal Geographies

April 28th, 2009

A Personal Geography

For the past week or two, I’ve been toying around with the idea of mapping out my own ever-evolving geography. Not merely the places I’ve lived, or traveled, throughout my life, but also those little locations that are inexplicably tied to particularly strong and resonant memories.

Maybe it’s just because I’ve been working on a Google Maps project at work these past few weeks. Maybe it’s the presence of the Google Streetview cameras throughout Toronto. Or maybe it’s due to some interesting conversations with a coworker about documenting personal timelines before those memories fade.

After I went through a pretty hard time with my epilepsy nearly four years ago, I discovered that many memories from that time felt entirely erased from my brain. Sandra would ask if I remembered going someplace, buying something, eating somewhere… and it was like it had never happened. When she reminded me, I could feel as if, yes, it was something I could have experienced, but it was almost like just remembering reading a book about the experience, not actually living through it.

I don’t think I lost much of substance. Everything prior to the seizures seemed fine. And that period of my life was pretty hazy and unfocused to begin with. It’s probably no surprise that, when the days blended together in a big gray mash, it was easy to lose specific details.

Still, it’s a freaky thought, and probably why I spend so much time and thought writing down the little pieces of my world that matter to me. But what about the tiny snippets where place and memory intersect? What about the memories specifically tied to non-important places?

I’ve decided to make a private map in progress, to mark my own personal geographies while they’re still important enough to remember. I don’t know that this will prevent losing those moments. Or even be something that’s easy to browse or review as years pass. But I think it could be an interesting experiment; to plot my personal timeline across the map of the world.

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9 Responses to “Personal Geographies”

  1. Meredith Says:

    That is a seriously wicked idea! Taking journaling or personal memories in a really creative direction. I like it. 😀 Love the write up in the image as well.

  2. Catherine Says:

    I can’t help but think from the bit you have shared that it would make an interesting sort of book, a graphic autobiography.

  3. carin Says:

    i think this is such a cool idea…and i love reading tiny snipets of your life that are tied to a certain place – like the screen shot you posted with this blog. it’s like a tiny little amy story.

  4. Chrystie Says:

    I think memory and place are so connected sometimes, so this idea is a really cool one. And I’ll second Catherine’s note about it being an interesting book.

    I have to ask though, didn’t you get your belly button ring the summer I moved here, 2000? I’m almost sure you had it during the joint Halloween party at our apartment when you were a butterfly. But I could be wrong. That summer was such a blur in my mind with everything being new out here.

  5. amy Says:

    Was it then or 99? Or before you moved out? I seem to remember living in the one bedroom when I had it done….

  6. Mia Says:

    Memories are important. And by writing them down as they happen, you are documenting your life. And nothing can ever take it away once you write it down. And you can see how your lfe changes over the next year. Who knows, it may be your next book

  7. catieP Says:

    This is an amazingly cool idea!

  8. Sandi (evilknittingtwin) Says:

    From the little that I know, you have lead a very interesting and varied life……and you wear it well!

  9. Janey Says:

    Writing down bits and pieces of your life is like carrying your short term – and long term – memory around in a book (diary) or on the Internets … instead of in your head. It’s just a different way of keeping the memories.

    Janey, who knows that a brain injury also causes memories to disappear and/or not be formed (internally) in the first place

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