When I think about my Gam (and Papa), there’s almost always one image that comes to mind: a map.
Now, this isn’t just any ‘ole ordinary map, but one that stretches from floor to ceiling on a Great Wall-sized surface.  There are thousands upon thousands of little yellow and white pushpins jabbed all over it, dotting the world with their pride and accomplishment.

Keep in mind this image was formed when I was about 6-years-old, four-foot-nothing; you know, when having 20 bucks to your name felt more like a million.
Gam and Papa told me how they had stuck a pin in each place they’d visited, successfully checking off country after country from their unwritten bucket list.

I remember running my hands over the bumpy heads of each pin, trying to wrap my peanut-sized brain around the mere concept of life happening outside of my own.
There were zillions of winding and jagged lines-carving boundaries, marking territories, defining culture, labeling people. It would swallow me up, as I got completely lost in the idea of a world that big.
“Turkey? Turkey?!” I shrieked in disbelief as I successfully sounded out the familiar word.
“Why is Turkey on here? And how could you go to a place called Turkey?” I asked, completely baffled at such a thought.

I only knew a select few things about turkey:
a) it was served on Thanksgiving
b) it was slimy when it came from the deli, and mom always tried to make me eat it in a sandwich (yes, I even refused it then)
c) it was a big, ugly bird my dogs would chase if it wandered into our yard
I’d pretty much concluded that alive or dead, I didn’t want it anywhere near me.

“Turkey is a county located between Southeastern Europe and Western Asia, no doi, Kayla,” of course this answer comes from Michael, 7-years-old, going on 35.
And, of course, this doesn’t really clarify much of anything to me. I’m still at a loss of how a bird can be a country.

“idiot,” he then muttered quietly under his breath, just out of reach to any adult ears nearby- of course.
It was right then and there that I decided I wouldn’t- no, I COULDN’T- just settle for some superior explanation from my prodigy brother if I actually wanted to answer my endless questions about each tiny dotted land of mystery.
It was in that moment that I fell in love with our world- or at least to the greatest capacity that my young heart could hold, anyway.
Tomorrow I’m going to see my grandma for the first time in years.
Yeah, the last time I saw her was at the closest thing to a Moore family reunion you could get. Nowhere near the same level as her and Papa’s 50th anniversary party when the girl got all sucked to shit by leeches in the lake and sort of killed the party- but probably the biggest family gathering since.
God, that was the time I got high with my aunt about halfway through the big gathering (it was HER joint, for the record), and taught my mom how to take Jell-O shots.
Funny how you can go from an adorably ignorant kid to a dope-smoking post-grad in the blink of an eye, right?
Yeah, I may be an “adult” now, and proud to say that I’m FULLY aware that Turkey is not just a smelly bird or disgusting food.

But, you know what? During my many explorations, and first-hand discoveries about our endlessly blue planet, I still find myself basking in that same child-like marvel quite often.
That feeling, that feeling of being so small in the most humbling and wonderful way, is something I will always attribute to my grandparents.
And to that beautifully dotted map.  

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