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The Human Map
Transcript of The Human Map
It was a normal boring Friday night and my friends and I had just come out of watching a movie in the theater on campus. We didn’t want to go back to the dorm yet, so we decided to walk five blocks down the hill into the neighborhood that we live in and play on a metal jungle-gym in the park on one of the coldest and snowy nights of January. It was sooo much fun, but it was so freakin cold!! I associate this memory with bonding and forming stronger friendships with a smaller group of my friend group that are now my closest friends here at Olaf. I also associate it with spontaneity, fun, and despite the cold, warmth!!
One of my best memories in high school was beating one of the best team in our league in overtime by 2 points. We were losing by more than 20 at half time. I made the last basket. In fact it was my only basket that day.It was great memory not only because we won, but because it was the first time I felt true camaraderie. During the game, everyone trusted each other as a team, and everyone moved on when we made mistakes. It was the first time when I thought: WE ARE A TEAM. We were in the local newspaper and I was mentioned. It was the first time I every TRUELY FELL IN LOVE with something. It's more beautiful because I will never play in a team like that ever in my life. It is a story that will never happen again and never mean so much to me ever again.I stood alone in the middle of the basketball court with a ball in my hand. I close my eyes and recall that moment. In the middle of the court, when no one is there, when it is dead silent, I associate this memory to that day, missing all my teammates I probably will never get to play with again.
There is a river down by the sports fields at the boarding school I attended. The river is beautiful, but it is extremely cold even into the beginning of May. I remember jumping in many times in April. You dove under the water for 5 seconds and it was absolutely freezing and unpleasant, but then when you emerged you felt rejuvenated and amazing. I associate this memory with the school itself. While I was there I was always so stressed and the overall experience was quite unpleasant; however, I learned so much at the school academically and personally. After emerging from it, I am truly so happy at, I feel just like I did when walking out of the freezing water.
THE HUMAN MAP
Los Angeles, California
One of my fondest memories is when I was about 8 years old. It was a summer evening and I remember I had played all day with some of my cousins. It was around 5 o’clock and there was a cool breeze in the air. I remember looking across the street and seeing the old red truck that was so familiar to me. My dad stepped out of the truck and I ran across the street to meet him. A leap into his arms and he rubbed his scratchy mustache against my cheek. He had just gotten out of work and had paint marks on his hands and his sweaty old baseball cap. He and I went to one of the neighborhood parks and spent the rest of the afternoon playing on the swings and eating chocolate ice cream. Every time I see an old beat up red truck, I think of that summer afternoon I spent with my father.
When I was younger, I was obsessed with strawberry cheesecake but would only eat it from this fancy place in downtown LA that I knew as the "moving place" because it had a revolving floor that revolved in a circle with floor to ceiling windows on the top of a hotel in LA so the view was of downtown LA. My family would never eat dinner here; we would just come for the cheesecake. So every time I eat strawberry cheesecake, I think of the moving place. I still don’t know the actual name.
I have really strong memories of hanging out with my older brothers and their friends and connecting with them, and I feel like they were always in my kitchen at my house in LA.
San Francisco, California
When I was younger, I would be sitting on the shorter couch in my house watching TV or reading or something, and my dad would carry Biskit out and put her right up next to his face and ask "Who has a bigger nose?" and I would say he did, and he would ask "Who has bigger eyes?" and I said he did again, and he'd ask "Who has bigger ears?" and I'd say him and he would just crack up and walk off.I associate this with the end of the hallway in my house.
This isn't necessarily one memory in particular, but every time I walk into my old bedroom in my house I get this overwhelming sense of being home and being comfortable, which I don't get in any other room. Now that I'm in college, I've switched bedrooms with my brother, such that he's in that room and I'm up in the attic room. The attic room is beautiful but I never feel like I'm really settled when I'm up there, even though I am actually home, because I get that feeling only when I'm in my own bedroom. My brother's stuff now covers the walls but I still remember exactly how I had it arranged and I guess I never appreciated having that room until I lost it.
Somewhere in between Malvern, PA and Chestertown, MD
Traveling to visit my sister when she was living in Maryland. When I was in high school and she was in college (and for a year just working) she used to drive up to our house in Pennsylvania, about an hour and 45 minutes, and pick me up. We would then head back to her place in Maryland. Driving down was my favorite part of the whole trip. We would spend about half the time talking about boys and the other half singing along to really loud annoying music. It was always in her shitty honda which smelled really good because she had these air fresheners on the ac vents because she used to smoke so the car smelled like cigarettes. It was her car which she paid for with money she made from bar tending and she was super proud of it, so despite the kinda shitty nature of it, she was always so happy driving it and we were both just so happy hanging out with each other. So I guess I associate the memory firstly with the car itself as a place and then the actual highway. The travel down was so quick and really easy because it was basically one road the whole way, but it was the prettiest road and when you finally got to maryland it was so rural and Margaret loved it so much, so I loved it so much.
The Woods in Maryland
One great memory, or series of memories I have is the walks me and my friends used to take whenever we would get drunk together
We would all drink a lot, then just like walk around and smoke and usually sit for a while under the stars and just talk and hang out and be outside
and guess the space I most associate that with
is my friends house that was in the middle of Maryland farm country
but kinda set back in a forest.
and in early June all the lightning bugs would be out in the trees of the forest so they would all flash, and on nights where it was a new moon they would be so bright and amazing
Providence, Rhode Island
come to my room im having a partyyyy
Moving into Andrews was a lot of going up and down the same set of stairs right next to my room. I remember I met Jesse and Dante that day and knew I would be pretty close with them especially when Jesse brought up a keyboard. I think that I associate that staircase with that memory a lot, and thinking about it... I didn't use the elevator at all at the beginning of the year which may have been influenced by the moving in...?
Morristown, New Jersey
Okay, so this was 4th of July last year, and I was on our boat with my family and my dog. It was like 3pm and super nice outside and all of a sudden all these clouds came and it started to pour and thunderstorm. So everybody kinda started panicking and packing up and trying to get back to land really quickly. And we were all really busy trying to pack everything up and get back so no one was paying attention to the dog. When we got back we realized he broke into the cooler with all the food and literally ate the whole thing haha. So we ended up having to go to a restaurant for dinner after we're all soaking wet from the rain. Anddddd I associate this memory with my family at the Jersey Shore, because it was the last time we were all there together before I left for school.
My favorite day of senior year in high school. We went out to Stiltsville, houses in the middle of the ocean up on stilts and jumped off the 17-foot roof into the ocean. We barbequed burgers and I was with my 20 closest friends.
My mom and I love to have girl dates. My most memorable “girl date” was right before I left to college. We went to a small and cozy French café. We put about one hour in the meter and had to go back two more times to put more money in because we were sitting and just having a great time talking about so many different topics!
When I was 5, my brother and I were playing in our front yard and I was teaching him how to play ding-dong-ditch, like when you ring a doorbell and then run and hide. And the walls of the outside our house at the time were like bumpy and rough concrete. I told my brother to go up the front steps, ring the doorbell, and then run and hide, but instead he ran on the way up the steps to the front door and tripped and stumbled into the wall. When he got up his head was cut, so I went inside and told my dad he had tripped. By the time we got outside he was bleeding a lot, and my dad had to take him to the hospital. He had to get stitches on his head and he still has a scar to this day. He blames the whole thing on me, but I don't think it was my fault at all.
Going to a baseball game with my dad when I was 9 to see the Red Sox for the first time. Boston. The City. The skyscraper.
One memory I have is last Christmas break when I went home and I was just at my house and all my cousins and Katie were over and we were all in my basement just wrestling and having so much fun! It was the first time I felt carefree since I came to Brown and it was honestly the best feeling to just have that much genuine fun with all the people I loved and cared about!
Grand Rapids, Michigan
So I have this very distinct memory of finding out my cousin died last year. I got the phone call from my parents. My mom just said "something horrible happened" then had to give the phone to my dad who blurted out "David is dead." But it was the day after St. Patrick’s day and I had gone to party at my friend’s college. So I woke up in this unfamiliar dorm in a bed that wasn't mine. And as my parents told me I was just staring at the pile of dirty clothes on the floor. It was such a weird place to get that kind of news.
When I was 4 I was in Wyoming with my family and my cousins. My older sister and eldest cousin were jumping on the beds with blankets over their heads and it looked like a lot of fun but I was too scared to do it. And then I was peer pressured into doing it. And I lost balance while jumping and fell and cracked the window behind me with my head. I was blamed for the whole thing (and my sister and cousin pretended not to have done anything and acted like it was all my idea).
A Beach in Jamaica
Fishing with equipment made out of a sprite bottle, old netting, and a bent bit of metal for a hook. Catching several ocean fish and then showing them to my granddad – he was rather impressed. I associate the memory with Jamaica and the beach, I guess
I remember going on a walk with my Nanna. It was quite a cold day so she gave me her coat to wear and her hat so I was extra warm. I was in those teenage years so I was really embarrassed to be wearing my Nanna’s clothes, but we went on a walk down to the duck pond and took some bread with us to feed them with. I threw some really stale bread and it hit a duck in the face. We laughed. Then we went home and had a cup of tea.
Well the memory that springs to mind is in the summer before GCSE's and you and I where sunbathing in your front garden and I was helping you to revise for history. You made us banana sandwiches and we drank the beer that Rob Pulling left over from a previous party. And that memory is associated with your house.
Feeling homesick, missing you, Mum, Flo and my friends. Wanting to quit but feeling determined at the same time. Eating those sweet chili sensations crisps. Watching BBC iPlayer on a fussy red screen. Sat in a single bed in uni halls room with teal green duvet and pillow and my phone.
A Beach on the West Coast, Scotland
Playing cricket on the beach with Mum, Richard, Rob, Him and James Hyett. For some reason I associate it with Scotland. I’m not even sure if it was in Scotland. But we used to holiday there a lot and in my head that's where it was.
My Nana (my dad’s mum), more specifically her at Xmas when we were young, which I always associate with their big old house at The Beeches in Lanark.
When I was young we used to go raspberry picking up through the woods. Cos I was only about 7 and my 2 big sisters were 10 and 11 then I got given the smallest Tupperware box ever and those 2 got big massive ones. So I filled mine up really quickly and then started helping them fill theirs and then my Dad was all like to them Oh look what you've collected clever things! and to me with a wry smile, oh well done A-M! But I kept on going again cos we used to get jam pieces and red kola to take for a picnic and it got me away from my annoying wee brother for the afternoon. The woods are still there, I'll have to go back and see if there's still wild raspberry bushes there.
We went to a place called Dunsyre with my Papa. We would walk up a river trying to find the source. I always associate dusty roads with this memory. No idea why. Just driving along a dusty road, slowly, to get to the little car park bit next to the river.
When I was 4 I got stuck under a portacabin school building I was crawling under it to get a ping pong ball we were playing football with. I had to get my head between some crisscross bars but when I tried to pull my head back out I couldn't because my ears wouldn't let me. They had the teachers crawl under too and put Vaseline round my neck and ears but I still couldn't get out. So they had to call the fire brigade to come out and open the bars so I could get out. 4 hours later and my mum all distressed because was supposed to be home by 3 they got me out safely. I got to sit in the fire engine as I had been a good boy throughout the whole ordeal, switching the siren on and the flashing lights to. I even got my photo in the local paper. So every time you go by a portacabin building and you see the bottom boarded up that is all a result of a wee boy called Wayne Clark tis true.
I was about 2yrs old (~1992) and I remember my dad telling me to NOT go up the staircase in our house in Bulgaria. I then proceeded to go up the stairs and he hit my bottom (and I think I cried)... I associate it with living in Bulgaria. I remembered this without my parents telling me about it.
Playing Dix Mille (a french counting game using 6 dice) with Flo and his family at his uncle's house in Nantes. Drinking Breton cider and eating crisps. Was winter there so was freezing cold!
Watching France lose a football game to Senegal in the 2002 World CupI associate this memory with Paris, because that's where I was at the time and I remember most Parisians laughing at the idea of an African football team beating France in any World Cup game.
One of the fondest memories I have of high school was not even in a classroom but 3000 miles away from home in a different land. I had just spent 20 minutes climbing to get to The Temple of Heaven, over-looking the whole city of Beijing. Whether it be from exhaustion or plain amazement from the view, I found myself at stand still. It's one of the few moments where my mind and my soul felt at peace. And I could feel it; the slow inhale and exhale of the incense-filled air, my slower heartbeat, and the even slower passing of thoughts. For once, I could catch how I was thinking. Touch, examine and feel it. It was surreal.
I remember the cliffs and beach next to the first house I lived in, which had some very steep and treacherous steps. I was always frightened when I toddled down them and this was exacerbated by the lack of railings.
It was a normal Sunday in my neighbourhood. I was reading the paper in my dining room, straight chilling after church. I had my phone in my left hand. I was texting my best friend, Chikwa. You see, we talked every minute of every day about the dumbest shit ever.As I was reading the paper, I felt something cold against my neck. It was a knife. At that moment, I remembered all the bad things I had done and quickly asked God to forgive me. I was pretty sure the thief was going to slash my throat and run, leaving me to bleed out in seconds. Thankfully, he only took my phone and nothing else.It was pretty traumatic. I couldn't sleep for days after that.Life is short. Kiss slowly and forgive quickly. Be generous with your love. Don't hold grudges. Be happy and appreciate. You never know when it's gonna end.-A memory I will never forget
I have this memory where I wake up in the morning, in a hot and humid climate and there is the smell of breakfast. I associate this with my grandmother's house in Israel. I experienced this in Mozambique and it reminded me of my gran's house.
Well breaking my arm as a 4-year old child is my earliest memory actually, I just remember swinging on the swing and wanting to fly, being carried away by wild imagination then, purposefully falling off the swing and sharply being brought back into reality by the impact I made on the ground (that's the most vivid part of the memory). The unusual events that followed are also very vivid, like my mum panicking, the gardener and the guard at home being so concerned and carrying me and taking me to the car.
I remember the first really big storm we had at my house and my granny was there and I was eating lunch and the lightening was so bad. And she told me to stop using my silverware because she said I would get electrocuted.
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A Human Map
The first time I had lunch at the school canteen
I usually went back home with my mummy
to have lunch at home
(this was back in primary school)
but one day I decided I wanted to be a big boy
so my mum came to pick me up for lunch as usual
and I stared at her
and I told her
very seriously (as serious as an early primary schooler can get)
"I want to go eat with the big boys"
so she said ok
and gave me money and left me to eat
as soon as she walked out
I went to the canteen
I felt scared because I'd never done this before
I sat with some people I didn't know
we didnt talk much
and I ate
and I thought to myself
this sucks, I want my mummy
so i started crying
I never forgave
Cantonment (military base type place) bombs going off in Lagos, Nigeria, over 15 miles away from my house and the whole house was shaking, windows/doors rattling etc. February 2001.
Outside an airport in Tunisia
Being in Nicaragua was the first time I was introduced to the concept of humidity. We stepped out of the airport and loaded our gear into the bus that was going to take us to a hostel. In the 5 minutes this took, I was drenched in sweat.
I was too young to remember where it was. In Tunisia somewhere. We came out of the airport in shorts and t-shirts, into blistering heat (or what felt so for a five year old). A man shouted at my Dad - "How could you let these children freeze like that?"
It was my first exposure to cultural relativity.
We spent the rest of our holiday observing Ramadan, tasting new chocolates and listening to Tunisian music.
My mum decided it would be a fun experiment
to see what happens when you feed Champaign
to a 2-year-old. I was that 2-year-old. Maybe that's why I am never hungover.
Byron Bay, Australia
As I watched the sun rise over the Pacific Ocean, despite being thousands of miles from where my family reside, I felt at home - this planet is our home.. The peace that fell upon me as the rays of light pierced the sky from behind the clouds was breathtaking. It was the dawn of the 26th february 2012, the day after my 20th bday and the day before i flew home from aus. i was with a german couple who id been out partying with in the rainforest the night before. we were all exhausted but so very happy that we'd made it to the lighthouse to watch the dawn. I had had to run 2.5 miles to get my camera so I could take pictures.! i associate this memory with no specific location - I was 'located' in Byron bay, Australia, but as I said there was a sense of home about the scenario. To be completely honest, this was the moment I realised that there is some kind of higher power that we as humans have no ability to comprehend. My location on this earth was irrelevant, just that I was existing was enough.
I remember driving from Providence to Cape Cod. The distance is slightly greater than indicated on this map. The drive along Buzzard's Bay down route 195 encapsulates the New England summer, and the sky opens up at the bridge in Bourne.
Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
In a part of the map with too little land to write this in black. In a house that cannot be reached by road or public boat. You need your own boat, and we took that boat out into the middle of the silent bay until we saw the whales, our sign to exit the boat and submerge ourselves into their habitat.
I look out the airplane window and see a grid
just kidding, never been
port seaton - in a caravan with my cousins and crazy grampa.nothing beats as many sweets as u can eat "don't make yourself sick now", banana rolls every morning "how would u like your roll, sliced or mashed?" and obviously the absolute carnage of 3 thomsons, 2 macphersons, 1 macleod, 2 mooneys, a big tait n a wee tait, all in the 1 room! driving past a Scottish caravan park reminds me of these good times.
I have a memory of Malu buying biltong on our first bus journey to Mbabane. We both didn't much.like it but ate the whole packet anyway. The first picture of me from SA is of me with biltong in my mouth looking knackered. I associate this.memory with WK, SA, SD... It's a strong 'un.
The last physical fight I had with a friend. It happened back in the early days of high school and I greatly associate this memory with a place I never want to be at emotionally and as for a physical location it was Swaziland in the cafeteria (crowded area).
“This too is a story about a story – how it will be inscribed on the physical landscape as well as on the landscape of our cultural memory. I wonder at the competing narratives: What will be remembered, what forgotten? What dominant narrative is now emerging?”
- Natasha Trethewey