A couple of weekends ago, I went up to Baltimore to see my cousin’s show at the Hegaxon. I’ve been brooding off and on about it ever since, because spending time in Baltimore always has an odd effect on me.
I have a complicated relationship with the city of my birth. I have alternately loved it and hated it throughout my life, and now as I get ready to buy a condo in DC—a city that truly feels like home to me—I find myself feeling nostalgic for Baltimore. Again.
Unless you count my four years of college, I have never lived more than about 50 miles from Baltimore. I moved to Pennsylvania right before my freshman year of high school, under extreme protest. (In retrospect, high school might have been a little easier on me if I’d been a little less angry all of the time.)
After college, I was determined to move back to Baltimore. But PR jobs were few and far between there, so after an extremely frustrating summer of applying for jobs, living with my parents and selling shoes at a department store, I broadened my search. I found a job in DC, a city I had absolutely no interest in. I moved to Laurel, which was as far away from DC as I could possibly live and still have a reasonably decent commute.
It took me about three months to fall in love with DC. I can even pinpoint the exact moment: I was sitting at a table in the window of the Capitol City Brewing Company on New York Avenue, and it suddenly occurred to me that I was sitting in the middle of the most powerful city in the world. As I watched the people walking past me on the street, I realized that I was in the center of everything, and I loved it.
And that was the end of my love affair with Baltimore. I still went back, occasionally—my friends and I went clubbing there semi-often for a couple of years, and most of my family was still in the area—but I was a DC girl at heart.
Just recently, though, I’ve found that I feel an intense nostalgia for Baltimore—but only when I’ve recently spent time there. As I drove through the streets on the way home from the Hexagon, I felt like I was home, even though I never lived anywhere near the neighborhood we were in. And as I toured a condo in DC today with my realtor—a condo I really think I want to buy—I had a nagging voice in the back of my head saying “This isn’t where you belong.”
It will pass. It always does. At least, until the next time.