I’VE ALWAYS fancied myself a renegade cartographer — my journals and sketchbooks are filled with scribbled street maps of various cities around the world, indicating monuments, museums, and rarely redemptive hostels. To an outsider, they might look more cryptic than helpful, but I’ve always prided myself on being able to find my way around a new city using only three lines — four, at most.
My father taught me how to read a map. Long before I was born he studied real-deal cartography, equipped with an assortment of rangefinders, compasses, and instruments lost on me. But in teaching me how to read them, I learned how to love them, and to this day I’ll pass the time with a map the way someone would a book. Maps are a precious exercise for the imagination, and in staring at them for so long I noticed some peculiarities as I went. For example: