God’s Maps

Priyanka - Chicago, Illinois
Entered on November 2, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: change, love
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I believe that God is an urban planner. She meticulously draws maps of highways, roads, parks and mini malls for us human beings to encounter. But beyond that, she has no control. She cannot tell us which road to drive on or which mall to shop at; her maps give us routes, not destinations.

In 2004, I graduated college, and my route was clear: I would enter law school by 2005, marry my college boyfriend by 2006, have my first child by 2008, my second by 2011. ‘Cause it’s best to have babies while in your 20s. Then somewhere between the law school plan and the marriage plan, I took a detour. I accepted a Fulbright Scholarship in Denmark. It was only a slight detour, I told myself. Just one year. Before I know it, I’ll be back on familiar roads.

In Copenhagen, I had no car. So I walked everywhere. It’s easy to get distracted when you’re in an unfamiliar place, and you’re on foot. I wandered aimlessly on cobblestoned paths. I threw away my heels, because they got stuck in the space between the stones. I stopped incessantly at hat shops, though hats are not my style.

One day, on one of my walks, I bumped smack dab into another detour. His name was Johannes. He made my stomach lurch to my knees. Every time he spoke, my heart fluttered, like in the movies. This feeling blind sighted me–it was simply not on my radar. I found myself perpetually late to everything, because I was lost in him, and he in me. So I stopped wearing a watch.

We charted our future together. By 2008, he would move to the States. We would marry by 2010, have our first child by 2012, our second by 2014. We would move to Denmark by 2016, just in time for them to start school. He wanted the kids to have a Danish education.

For Johannes, who always carried a map and wore a watch, I was also a detour. He relocated here, even got an American driver’s license. But somewhere between Westside Highway and East 24th Street, he looked at me and said, “I can’t go down this road.” For a second, I thought he meant literally. I began to think of alternate routes. He elaborated, “I love you, but I cannot leave my country. It is what I know, and it is where I should be.” And just like that, he was back on track.

It has been almost a year since I was left on the side of the road. I still haven’t found my way back. I don’t even know where I am supposed to find my way back to. From time to time, I call on God to ask her for direction. To be honest, she’s not very helpful. All she does is suggest different routes. I’ve come to the conclusion that she doesn’t have a clue where I’m going either. She just draws the roads.