The places that we inhabit throughout our lives shape who we become. The nature of these significant locations that mark passages of our lives can vary in form. They can range from the expanse of a city to the rough floor of a tree house. Even our bodies are a place of sorts. We became a landscape all our own, pitted and worn smooth by the experiences and memories we’ve collected along the way. If you were to trace the pattern of your landscape, what kind of influences would you see?
Step 1: Divide your life into segments that can be marked by some type of movement from place to place. Remember that the concept of “place’ can be defined in many ways. Even if we remain in the same town our entire lives, the spaces that we inhabit change. Perhaps the movement you choose is relocation from one state to the next or perhaps it’s making the transition from middle school to high school. Perhaps it’s a blend of both. How you choose to define the places that anchor your identity to a specific point in time is up to you.
Step 2: Once you’ve mapped out at least three distinct places in your life, write a page about each location. These pages should provide descriptive snapshots of the locations you’ve chosen, integrating the auditory, visual, and sensory details that stand out when you revisit this location in your memory.
Step 3: Create a collage essay that explores how each of the significant places you’ve chosen to highlight have shaped who you have become. Using details from the location pages, as well as from other pertinent sources, construct an image of yourself as a type of place, one that has been shaped by history and the unique landscapes you’ve encountered.
Contributed by Maeve Kirk, 2013