There are old maps that were drawn by those important men who lived a long time ago in Nantucket. The maps show these entire United States, and Nantucket encompasses most of the land East of the Mississippi. There are other states and territories on the map, but the map shows Nantucket, large and proud, bigger itself than any other state or territory drawn. This phenomenon occurred because at the time, Nantucket was the center of that particular artists world, and since it was the center, every other geographic location was unimportant and insignificant.
Lest you think this was purely an old timey phenomenon, if you were to ask someone who lives in San Francisco to draw a map of these Unites States, the map might look somewhat similar in skewed proportion to those Nantucket maps of old. San Francisco would be large, California would be huge. On the other Coast, New York would be gigantic. In the middle, some insignificant states wedged in, the collection of which would barely add up to the size of San Francisco.
Since I am from Wisconsin, and swell with pride at the mere mention of my home state, I would draw my own map. In that map, Wisconsin would make up the entire Midwest, with small allowances made for Chicago, and a small misshapen glove the size of Lake Geneva representing Michigan. The coasts would exist in thin little strips, perhaps the Pacific coast appearing as the size of Fontana, and the Atlantic Coast the size of Williams Bay.
On Friday night, on what was night one of a most epic wedding celebration, I stood near the dance floor, because near is as close to any such floor as I will ever get, and a man who also eschewed the dance walked over to me and we began the sorts of conversation that people have on and near these floors. We shouted at each other, as loudly as possible, while waiving our arms to enhance the communication, and carried on a conversation that likely neither of us clearly heard. He was from San Francisco, and he had never been to Lake Geneva. He asked about the lake, about why it is what it is, and what it is that made this elaborate wedding weekend take place here, of all the other important places that the bride and groom could have chosen.
I yelled back something about the size of the lake, the clarity of the water, the depth. I told him it was near Chicago, but not too near. I told him that it’s just the place to be, and that, was that. There was nothing else I could scream, nothing else that would make sense. He looked bemused, in the way that someone from California would look at someone from Williams Bay, because California is so much more important than Williams Bay and to ever suggest an alternative is to be naive and small minded. We parted ways so I could scream in the ear of someone else.
The next night, at the Lake Geneva Country Club, while the dancing was occurring and while I was watching, this same guy made his way towards me. We screamed at each other to indicate a Hello, and then he shook his head. He didn’t say much this time, and I didn’t scream much back. He just said, I get it now. He had spent 24 hours in Lake Geneva, attending a pre-wedding lakeside dinner. Attending a lakeside wedding before boating to a lakeside reception at a venerable old club. It didn’t take more than that, and a guy from California told a kid from Williams Bay that he had seen all he needed to see, and now he understood.