Once, when I was eight years old, my mother raised a subject she had never discussed before – her hometown.
“I’m from Stockstadt am Rhein.”
“Where?” The town’s name was foreign, but the way she said it, with a thick German accent, revealed a part of her I never knew existed.
She went to the shelf, dragged the oversized, heavy Rand McNally Atlas of the World to the kitchen table and opened the book to the map of Germany.
“Here’s the thumb of the Rhein River.” Pressing her index finger against the center of the map, her fingertip skidded along the page making a crisp, pursing sound. “Darmstadt, Biebesheim, Groß Gerau,” she continued in her foreign tongue. “It should be right here.” She squinted hard, then shrugged, “It’s not on the map.”
For years, to me, Stockstadt am Rhein was her hometown that the Rand McNally Atlas of the World didn’t even bother to mark with a dot. But for her, Stockstadt am Rhein was her Heimat – the place, people, landscape, flowers, meals, songs – that lived within her. Now, I know…the town not on the map defined both of us.
* * *
Today, every city, every town, every village is on Google maps. Even Stockstadt am Rhein. Would you like to view the map in hybrid, satellite, terrain? Whatever your preference, please see the new map page on my blog.