Map Assignment Reflection Paper

In mapping out my movements on April 16th, 2009, I was pleased to find that for most of the day I was out and about, either socializing, doing work or running errands. The next day, I continued the exercise to a lesser extent and was disappointed to find that my movements were not nearly so interesting. I was then left to ponder: had I just been lucky that my map diary was completed on a day in which I was particularly productive or had I altered my general actions and destinations in order to create a more interesting narrative?
Getting up and going to the gym is not a daily occurrence, but as I generally work out on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, this action was completely abiding by my normal routine. My trip to the College Apartments and then to Barbara Carson’s house was specific to that date, but the appointment had been made far ahead of time, so that, too, was not affected by the knowledge that I was mapping myself. Yet, the fact that I drove to CVS after I left Barbara Carson’s house on Griffin Avenue is a huge deviation from my normal actions on a weekday. I generally do all my errands on weekends, yet for some reason I chose to go to CVS on a weekday; while I was eventually going to pick up some toiletries, I wasn’t in any desperate need for them at that particular moment in time.
After going home and having lunch, I walked to and from my Sociology class in Morton. While I am a bit ashamed to admit this, I generally drive to class. But on this particular day I walked. I wonder, did I walk because the weather was pleasant or did I walk because I wanted to illustrate that specific path on my map? Maybe I was simply embarrassed to admit that I drive 5 minutes to a class rather than walking for 15 minutes. (In my defense, I often run late due to varying circumstances, leaving me two options: drive or show up 10 minutes late. I’d rather drive and not annoy my professor.)
The trip to Rita’s was a special treat. I generally have Up ’til Dawn executive board meetings on Wednesdays, but as it was our last meeting of the year, we went to Rita’s on a Thursday instead. While this deviated from the norm, it was not a conscious addition to my map. The movements that followed my time at Rita’s, however, was particularly driven by the knowledge that I was meant to map myself. While I am a social person, I am generally – due to a packed schedule and a need for sleep – much more likely to stay in for the evening rather than going out. But not on Thursday the 16th. I went to the Green Leafe and then – gasp! – continued my adventures into the wee hours of the morning at King & Queen apartments, also located on Scotland Street.
Completely recognizing that the assignment was not to alter my general movements and then map them on a piece of 8.5×11 paper, I still felt compelled, in a small way at least, to make my day seem more exciting. While I have definitely experienced days much like last Thursday (without conscious recognition), I’m not sure that my movements would have been the same were not for the fact that I was keeping tabs on my actions.
To be clear, all the places I went were not outside my general territory. I’m just not sure that I would have normally gone to all these places in succession. The map provided is a fairly clear depiction of the locations that I visit on a fairly regular basis. It also shows that there is a definite boundary within which I tend to remain on weekdays, at least. This boundary exists for two main reasons. First, I don’t have the time to go much further without missing an appointment. Second, I am not that familiar with the Williamsburg that exists beyond those boundaries. Of course, I know the New Town and Monticello Marketplace areas well, but those are generally reserved for weekends. On weekdays, I stick to my comfort zone. I can get from one place to another quickly and efficiently and I never run the risk of getting lost. This does seem to exhibit a sense of alienation from the city as a whole. I stick to campus and places very near to it. I’ve never had a great desire to expand my horizons, and I doubt that the citizens of Williamsburg greatly mind my absence.
The activity of mapping myself was a telling experience. It showed me how limited my movements are while also giving me insight into my desire to appear a certain way to others. I am very glad that I am oblivious to my movements on a day-to-day basis, because when truly begin to think about them, I wonder what I might be missing, or what my lack of travel might say about me as a person. And, while it’s probably an important lesson, I think I’d rather remain oblivious to the subject.


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The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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