The fantastic familiar, as viewed from atop a hill.

There is a bend in I-94, just past Zeeb, as I head out of Ann Arbor, going west.

It marks the boundary of my territory—the area that I know best. I know that beyond Zeeb lies adventure.

There’s aways a landmark to border my territory. When I was younger, that border was a line of pine trees. They rose beyond the edge of our property, beyond even the edge of our neighbor’s property, because ours sloped down a hill, and then theirs sloped up a hill, and then there were the pine trees, and beyond them the sky. And somehow, even though I knew as part of me, that concealed behind those pine trees was a house or two, a private dirt road leading down to Textile, and some farmer fields, what I believed was that on the other side of those pine trees lay Narnia.

When I lived in Germany, the boarder of my territory was a tiny town called Altdorf. I could see it from my balcony, perhaps half a mile or a mile from the house where I lived. When I went walking, I walked in the territory between Altdorf and Holzgerlingen, amid farmer fields, with a few trees, some nice roads. I only actually walked as far as Altdorf once or twice. Never beyond. And although I remember Altdorf as being a pretty (if otherwise unremarkable) little town, I also remember it as a place I consciously, and for no particular reason, never went, simply because it was beyond my territory.

In Edinburgh, I remember first arriving and feeling the clostrophobia of only truly knowing a few blocks worth of space. My world felt so small. Eventually, my territory grew to encompass the distance in which I could comfortably walk in a large circuit in a single day: from my flat, to the Royal Mile, down to Hollyrood Palace, up Arthur’s Seat, down the other side, as far south as Blackford Hill. I used to sit on Blackford hill and look out toward the Pentlands.

And even though I knew that beyond the Pentlands lay Lothian, and the Borders, and England, what I truly believed—and to some extent still do—was that there lay Narnia.

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