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  • Writer's pictureShana Ritter

“Stories are geography”

“Stories are geography” – from Rebecca Solnit’s The Faraway Nearby

If I make a map of you I would trace the lines on your face to memories. But would the memories be yours or mine? Does a story tell about the changing landscape or does it compose a snapshot, a moment in an ever shifting terrain. Does it capture the more allusive nature of sky and the unknown of the underground? There is so much hidden beneath surfaces.

 Underneath the geography of my home is Karst topography, a porous rock, that allows a sinkhole to appear, or an underground spring to feed a small lake.  There are caverns and fissures, and cenotes. My garden is full of geodes , mineral composites that look like dried mud rocks on the outside but are full of crystals when cracked open.

There is also a fault line running nearby. I never thought of earthquakes in Indiana (especially after having lived in San Francisco and Guatemala) but one night we woke to our house shaking. The New Madrid fault line has the potential for huge seismic shifts across this part of the heartland.

Geography continually transforms, as does a good story.  It shifts when you remember it, when you go back and reread it a year later, or when you pass it on to a friend who interprets it very differently. A good story is also home, it may not stay the same, the topography, the weather, the landscape may change, but you can still find your way.

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