Living is a lot like opening a set of Matryoshka dolls from the inside. We start in smallest doll, the insular world that we call childhood. For most of my life, I have lived in the suburbs, which are not quite as isolated as rural areas but also not quite as overwhelming as big cities. I go to nearly the same places every single day and where ever I go, I take the exact same route. I know them by heart: I might not be able to tell you the streets, but I can sure tell you where to go straight and then make a left, where the local video game stores are, and what stores are located in what plaza. My eyes have created local landmarks of gas stations and shops, a thin, invisible web of relativity that I move about on. Making stops on the road is never new information: the new supermarket is 5 miles away from the church, this restaurant is 10 minutes from school, and so on and so forth. With each new connection, a fresh thread in the gossamer cloth, the web only grows stronger, as I grow more confident about my knowledge of the web, a result of crossing over older pieces of web. Even if there is no light in this first Matroyshka doll, it caps off at a relatively small space; I have become familiar with this first doll. I still can’t point out a majority of the nooks and crannies where I live, but I can make a good guess as to where each piece lies.
However, the first doll is transient thing, an illusion that is falling apart along well-worn lines. I can’t go back to times when my biggest concern was not bombing the next math quiz, when the pinnacle of evil was reading The Old Man and the Sea for the 9th grade summer reading assignment. It doesn’t break all at once. In sixth grade, Africa, Europe and Asia were still simply “not America”, with the small exception of Vietnam, which I only knew because that was where my parents came from. Even the United States were just “California and Company”. Then, the fractures started to form. The mythical regions from the storybooks called textbooks became more concrete. They were not just settings for stories, but places in their own right that had their own stories. Those places that seemed so distant in textbooks are now alarmingly close: when the European economy suffers, the United States feels the reverberations. Racial tensions that continue today stem from the irony of attempting to end the feudal-esque class system with a new class system. The web that connects the world together frightens me because of its strength and the anonymity of its spinners. I am not familiar with the ends. Do ends even exist in this world wide web? In a cascading domino effect, all dolls break in time and we are left to wander this vast world. It was a very comfortable time, when we were the center of our lives.