The Map of Enough: One Woman's Search for Place

The Map of Enough: One Woman's Search for Place

by Molly May

Paperback(First Trade Paper Edition)

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The Map of Enough: One Woman's Search for Place by Molly May

Molly Caro May grew up as part of a nomadic family, one proud of their international sensibilities, a tribe that never settled in one place for very long. Growing up moving from foreign country to foreign country, just like her father and grandfather, she became attached to her identity as a global woman from nowhere. But, on the verge of turning thirty years old, everything changed.

Molly and her fiancé Chris suddenly move to 107 acres in Montana, land her family owns but rarely visits, with the idea of staying for only a year. Surrounded by tall grass, deep woods, and the presence of predators, the young couple starts the challenging and often messy process of building a traditional Mongolian yurt from scratch. They finally finish just on the cusp of winter, in a below-zero degree snowstorm. For Molly it is her first real home, yet a nomadic one, this one concession meant to be dissembled and moved at will.

Yurt-life gives her rare exposure to nature, to the elements, to the wildlife all around them. It also feels contrary to the modern world, and this triggers in Molly an exploration of what home means to the emergent generation. In today’s age, has globalization and technology taught us that something better, the next best thing, is always out there? How does any young adult establish roots, and how do we decide what kind of life we want to lead? How much, ever, is enough?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781619024748
Publisher: Counterpoint Press
Publication date: 01/13/2015
Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 802,585
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Molly Caro May is a graduate of Middlebury College, and has worked as a teacher, artist’s model, apple and cherry picker, lab assistant to a clinical herbalist, barista in a seaside town, opera caterer, field assistant to a frog biologist, conservation program developer, mentor to at-risk teenagers, vegetable farmer, and was an editorial assistant at Norton in New York City. She now lives with her husband, daughter, and hound in the Gallatin Valley of Montana. This is her first book.

Read an Excerpt


Some say that the first ten years of life organize your entire perception of who you are. That’s a serious statement. I sat under a cottonwood tree, wind rustling the grass by my legs, and thought it out. But not for long, because how could I not agree right away? That young girl had occupied a literal present tense in me for my entire adult life. No matter where I went. She would surface in my memory with flashbacks that cued during the most common moments—
buying cucumbers at the grocery store, petting my dog on the porch, filling my car with gas in the middle of nowhere. She spoke as if she were still alive, and always close. Maybe that girl was bolder than me. Maybe I wanted to retain her. Her stories certainly populated my body. And she always appeared when
I needed her most—somehow her presence overshadowed, for an instant, the many small disappointments of self that had amassed over time to make me feel unwarranted.

Under the cottonwood tree, I unlaced my shoes to let my feet go free.

When my father walks down the rolling lawn towards me, I unlace my roller skates and step onto the driveway. We are visiting from abroad—the word my parents use, which must mean that where we live is foreign to us even though this place, my grandparents’ house on the Chesapeake Bay, feels more foreign to me. The air here smells of salt, of heat, of mowed grass. Everyone else is lounging up the hill by the house probably eating Triscuits and cheese. That’s what we do when we come here, and we also play with the Russian dolls and page through all the old maps. My father puts a hand on my shoulder, crouches down to eye level, and asks if he can talk to me. Before I say Yes, I test my almost double digits self and wait a few long seconds just to feel what would happen if I said No. It’s about a new job, he explains. Oh, that’s familiar. It’s the next line that throws me. In a few months, we will be moving to America. Because I don’t know how to absorb this information, I scream at him.

I hate America!

I run away hard, my feet, still in white socks, slapping across the black asphalt. At the old dock, I collapse onto rough planks. Even though I like moving, moving to America is going to ruin everything. I don’t know exactly why. I just know it’s true. Hot tears run down my already flushed cheeks. But the humid air eventually pulls me upright and my legs dangle out over the green water and I am watchful. The peninsula spreads out to nowhere, but I don’t know that word peninsula yet, or that the long bird coasting by is a blue heron or that the capital of America, which people really call the United States of America, is forty-five minutes away or that there is a state with the same name as the capital, only it’s on the other coast, the rainy one. My grandparents, the ones who live here now, aren’t even from here. They grew up as Americans in Chile and raised my father while moving from Hawaii to Japan to Germany to Montreal to Belgium to England. And so far, my father has chosen for us the same wandering life: from Australia to the Dominican Republic to Spain to Mexico and now, to America.

The crab cage stares at me. It hangs over the water. Piled on top of one another, the crabs are oblivious to chaos and also to their future. This afternoon, when my cousins and second cousins come over, while ears of corn boil in pots, we will paint black numbers on the crabs’ shells, line them up like prisoners, and make them race down the scalding driveway. My two younger brothers can’t wait for the awesome event. I end up chewing my fingernails.

Reaching into the cage, I dodge the clacking of claws andfeel brave.

One by one, I pull crabs out and fling them into the still water.

Plunk. Plunk. Plunk.

I agree with the sound of freeing crabs. They splash. They descend into the murk. Into the seaweed and sand. Float on their backs. Legs splayed out. Bellies white as ghosts. As the crabs go back to their element, my pigtails feel too tight and, suddenly, I’m not sure where I am from and it feels like the most urgent question of my life. Soon I’ll be sitting in a classroom where a teacher will hand me the white crisp sheets of an entrance test. I will learn how to fill in ovals with a #2 pencil and also that I need to repeat a grade because I have no answer for how many coins get dropped into a tollbooth. I don’t know what a tollbooth is. I don’t know about American quarters or nickels, even though, by lineage, I am American.

Table of Contents

Prologue xiii

Part 1

1 Here I Am 3

2 The Walls Go Up and Down and Eventually Up 35

3 Animals and Acceleration 69

Part 2

4 Hawthorns, Ice, Others 105

5 The Story I Told Myself 139

6 White Picket Fence Girl 167

Part 3

7 This Is the Place 199

8 A Running Chapter 231

9 The Deer Speaks 261

Coda 287

Acknowledgments 291

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The Map of Enough: One Woman's Search for Place 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Map of Enough is a beautiful and thoughtful gem of a book. This story of one young woman's journey -- in moving to Montana, building a yurt, braving the elements - actually is the story of all of us searching for meaning in our lives. What do we want? How do we find it? And once we find it, how much of it do we need? As the author asks: What is Enough? After reading this book, I feel closer to all of those answers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago