As I work to turn from “vacation me” back into “normal me,” (a task that involves a lot more laundry than I’d like) I’m thinking back on some of the things I appreciate about the Baltimore/D.C. area every time I’m lucky enough to get there.
•Life is simply very different 1,500 miles from my home. People are kind of piled on top of each other in their houses and apartments, in their transportation, in their work. And something about that constant proximity to others seems to break down some barriers. I often hear that the Midwest is the friendliest part of the country. I disagree. People in the Midwest are superficially pleasant. In my experience, people in the East know how to get along with others through constantly being in close quarters with them. It’s an interesting distinction.
•I LOVE being so near to people who don’t look like or sound like me. Regular contact with folks who have a different color of skin or a different accent / language or a completely different background can only be a good thing.
•Speaking of a different accent, I finally got to hear the “Bawl-mer” accent in a woman from our daughter’s church. It’s very difficult to describe. A little bit southern. I noted that the long “a” sound is substituted for the short “a” sound in most words. Fascinating!
•You have to appreciate a place that knows the correct grammar to use on the express lane signs in the grocery store. Around here it’s always “12 items or less.” Wrong.
•When folks are so close together, space is at a premium, and parking and transportation take on a whole new dimension, walking-distance living and lively neighborhoods are one result. Not only is that fact a fun and novel experience for those of us who feel compelled to own one vehicle per family member (with ample garage/driveway space to park all those cars), it also fosters a great sense of community.
One final reflection: One of the loveliest aspects of this vacation was our welcome when we came home. Middle had been on her own while we were gone, and was in class for the entire evening upon our return. She’d spent a few hours earlier in the day cleaning and tidying, doing laundry, and preparing a meal for us, even though she wouldn’t be there to enjoy it. We returned to a peaceful, welcoming, and deliciously-scented home. She’s a gem.
There’s no place like home. But there’s no place like “far away,” either.