Outward Bound Ideas

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

83. Through The Children's Gate by Adam Gopnik

From: 'Through The Children's Gate' by Adam Gopnik

Your children make their own maps, which enlarge and improve your own. They inscribe permanent illustrative features on your map, like the spouting beasts on medieval ones. There's a spot on University Place where Olivia, furious at being too small to go bowling at Bowlmor Lanes nearby, yelled at me, "I used to love you! And now I don't like you!" When I pass it now, she is still there, still indignant and still yelling. And if their maps are mutable, well, you believe, every child's map is meant to be, only to emerge in adulthood as the Only Map There Is, the one they're stuck with. The image of me they settle on, I would shudder to see––but I hope their map of New York will be bright and plain: That's where we grew up, weirdly enough, these pages stand in for, if not a million, than many others: They could be Jacob and Sasha, or Ben and Sophie, or Emma and Gabriel. The miraculous thing about children is that they really are all alike––boom, here comes three and an imaginary friend; whoosh, there goes eleven and the first stirrings of passion––and all utterly unique. They are radically themselves and entirely of their kind. Just like us, actually. The city doesn't change that, but it does italicize it: among eight million souls, these two.

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