This piece is excerpted from Imagine a City: A Pilot’s Journey Across the Urban World by Mark Vanhoenacker, a guest at Amherst College’s 2023 LitFest. Register for this exciting celebration of Amherst’s literary life.
I’m thirteen. It’s after school. I’m in my room, at my desk. I look out of the window over the drive and towards the garage. It’s late autumn and it’s almost dark outside. There’s frost in the corners of the window and snow is falling.
I look across the room, at the light-up globe on my dresser. I go to it, flip the switch on its cord and watch as the darkened sphere turns blue in the failing light and starts to shine as if it were in space.
I return to my desk. I sit down, pick up my pencil with my left hand and rest its tip on the sheet of graph paper. I love airplanes and cities and so, not for the first time, I’ve drawn a simple map of the world. I’ll draw a line that begins in one city and ends in another. But which city to start from?