The Map of Enough
by Molly Caro May
Molly’s note: I wrote The Map of Enough because the question “What is enough?” wouldn’t leave me alone—everyone seemed to be asking it, including me. As a woman just entering her 30’s, I wanted to reconcile my childhood abroad with my current life in Montana. Living in our handmade yurt on The Land, 107 acres owned by my family, forced open my senses—and, with that, my husband, Chris, and I learned about ourselves, each other, and what it means to begin to allow a place to teach you. The section below takes place halfway through the book. We are building a garden. I am feeling, for the first time, invested somewhere—but still confused about that feeling. The white picket fence girl is the younger me who actually did want a home.
Spring plowed ahead. Farmers upturned fields. We could not escape the sweet smell of soil everywhere. We planted asparagus crowns. I planted cotoneaster shrubs as a windbreak. Brooks offered to lend me his beater of a blue truck to go buy two tons of compost from a goat farm. Then I borrowed his fence pounder for the deer fence. Then his knowledge on what kind of critters would try to get through. We would borrow a lot from Brooks in the next months, and his generosity would make me examine my own.
Because, like spring, a child is generous in her clarity. She has not yet learned to shape herself to please others, or to please herself. The white picket fence girl started to talk to me when I wrote, when I sat under the aspens, when I clipped my fingernails. She got excited about her eleven best friends coming for a bachelorette party at the end of the month. She would get to show them this place. She let me know all about the importance of home, digging, knowing, letting go of letting go of letting go.
I wanted to integrate all these parts of me.
Do you remember me ever talking about wanting roots? I asked Chris.
He thought about it for a few minutes and then sat on the desk in the yurt.
Well, he said, you aren’t as cut-and-dried as you think, Molly. No one is.
Then I called my mother and asked her.
She explained that I had always loved new things, new schools, new friends, new binders and pens, that I hated, more than anything, to be stuck.
But did I ever talk about where I would live when I grew up? I asked.
Not really, she said, but you did seem to have a vision of home you wanted.
There was never a where, she said.
I thanked her and hung up.
There may never have been a where, but there was a growing up. I needed to grow up in a way I hadn’t expected. Chris’s brother Mike had gone back to Turkey for a final few months. He sent us an email from Syria, where he had traveled to a monastery in the remote hills. He wrote: This trip will either get traveling out of my system or make me never able to settle down again. It was an either/or way of defining himself. I related to that. But as I slept and woke in the yurt, strumming my fingers along the uni, watching snow fade away with each day of more sun, I could feel my own point of view struggling hard, like a burrowing vole, to expand its point of view. The real questions were, How do we choose to live, and was constant bettering a disease, and if so, why do we do it? And as I thought that thought, a rabbit darted across the field followed by a fox followed by a hawk followed by the wind.
March 18th Country Bookshelf, Bozeman
May 6th Shakespeare & Co, Missoula
June 10th Elk River Books, Livingston
Molly Caro May is a writer and teacher of place-based writing workshops. Her writing had appeared in Orion, Salon, and Fourth Genre, among others. Learn more at www.mollycaromay.com