More Mobius Strip than Line Segment

Often, life is depicted as a horizontal line, starting at birth and proceeding on a linear course. History teachers love timelines, as they lay out events in an easily understandable chronological order. Epic battles are waged, empires rise and fall, great men and women leave their various marks, science and technology march forward and the knowledge of the world expands while the physical distance seems to shrink, all on these straight edges. (In school, I loved color coding my timelines. Pink could represent births and deaths, purple could be starts and ends to wars, green could mark social milestones, etc. History, while so cruel at times, can be so pretty!)

And yet, the older I get, the more time seems to fold back on itself, rather than running along smoothly from point A to point B. These folds tend to be minor, yet they pop up again and again. (Imagine them to be the crow’s feet around the eyes of the cosmic world. Inconsequential, but here to stay.)

For example, I remember sitting in my 8th grade geography class, wondering why Mr. Shake thought we needed to know the countries and capitals of the world. We’re from Idaho, after all! As we studied each region, we were given a quiz over those political designations; I hated studying for those tests. As a thirteen year old, I thought it was utter rubbish. I recall having a particularly difficult time on the “Americas” unit test. Yes, there are some freebies in there- Guatemala City is the capital of Guatemala, Panama City is the capital of Panama and Belize City is the capital of Belize. (Or so it was! When I wanted to push for a Caribbean post as being high on Thad’s most recent Foreign Service bid list this spring, I quickly realized Belize up and moved their capital to Belmopan.  That’ll throw a monkey wrench in the globe-makers plans!) But not all of those Latin and South American countries make it so easy on 8th graders. For the life of me, I could not keep Haiti and the Dominican Republic straight. How was I to know which got the tiny part of the island and which took the lion’s share of land? And their capitals? I still remember memorizing that by knowing the Dominican Republic matched is capital- both having two words, leaving Haiti and Port-a-Prince as the “other.”

Fold.

Jump ahead six years to my sophomore year of college and suddenly, there is no doubt in my mind which part of Hispaniola was Spanish-speaking and which went the French route. Why? Because I was boarding a plane to spend winter semester in the Spanish-speaking half of what seemed like the other side of the world to my junior high self. Suddenly, Mr. Shake’s geography class wasn’t a bunch of busy work! (Although, much like with my color-coded timelines, I also enjoyed coloring the maps we created for each region of the world. The hardest part was that no two touching countries could be the same color, meaning he wanted us to stick with basic [read: boring] color choices- red, green, yellow, orange, etc.  Really though, I wanted to do all of Africa in various shades of pink and purple- maroon, raspberry, grape, violet, orchid, magenta. I could easily come up with enough hues to fill in all fifty-four nations without ever having two of the same shade touch. But no. Primary and secondary colors it was.)

Fold.

And then there was sixth grade. (I’ve debated back and forth in my head for a week now about whether this was sixth or seventh grade. I really can’t decide!) I joined an after school team called OMSI that would enter the spring competition in northern Idaho. I know there were different sections, possibly some math and science related options, but I quickly signed up for the humanities-based project, as even then letters always made me happier than numbers. Our project for the competition was to write and act out a play about the final days of Pompeii. I am sure there were very specific rules about timing and major points that had to be touched upon, but decades (what?! really!?) later, those escape me. What I do remember is donning a bed sheet-toga and a head of perfectly curled spiral ringlets. That year, I read every book in the Wilson Middle School library about Pompeii and volcanoes and Greek history. I was obsessed with those photos that show the casts made by bodies buried in ash as people fled to the sea.

Fold.

Now, a few more years down the road (it’s best not to give an actual count this far out!), I’m about to experience another cosmic crow’s feet event. Yesterday, Thad booked plane tickets for our anniversary trip- to Italy and Greece! We’ll be spending just under two weeks touring Rome, the Vatican, Florence and Athens. And of course, no inaugural trip to the Boot would be complete without spending a day wandering the ruins of Pompeii. (I’m guessing bed sheet togas and heavily hair-sprayed ringlets are discouraged.)

Fold.

Straight lines are easy to draw and give a good glimpse into a given era, but in reality, life is more Mobius strip than line segment.

Fold.

Fold.

Fold.

One thought on “More Mobius Strip than Line Segment

  1. A few years ago my wife bought a briefcase affair with every hue of colored pencil known to man. I kept wondering why anyone would need so many different colors, most of which I had never heard of or could pronounce at times. I now have a better understanding of the color-coding and mapped rainbow addiction that some people have, where this pencil box would be indispensable as a life tool and aid to organizational skills.

    Like

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