Trish and I moved to Baltimore somewhere between the 1st and 2nd weeks of June, 2008 beginning what I thought was a 3-5 year stay in Charm City, subsequently turning into 10 years. I distinctly remember that move; I ran the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon the first weekend of June and could barely walk up and down the steps to my new apartment in the Mt Vernon neighborhood. Since I was still living in Annapolis, I would drive home every day after work, pack up the car, pass out, then go to work in the morning, drop of the load in the evening and then repeat the process for a week or more, since not much can fit in a Civic. When nothing was left except me and Trish sleeping on a yoga mat on the living room floor, we finally finished our relocation to Baltimore.
I’ve had a mixed relationship with Charm City. There are parts of it I love (Kinetic Sculpture Race, WTMD First Thursdays, walking along the harbor) and parts I hate (feeling claustrophobic, dirty streets and water, rats and cockroaches). I love sitting at an Oriole’s game in the summer and hate seeing the crowds of purple Ravens fans in the fall. I love how close it is to BWI airport and hate how far it is from any type of wilderness area. Neither pedestrians nor drivers know how to obey traffic laws and the infrastructure is so infuriating that you can begin to understand why. We have a great local food culture and our CSA farm is 10 miles away. We have the highest insurance rates and heroin overdoses in the country. I love walking to so many things but hate not having any land or even a garden of my own.
Over time I’ve come to appreciate the things I do have here. Tons of free concerts and festivals and events, great cultural amenities like theaters and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and a pretty decent local and national music scene. The Creative Alliance is down the street from my house and volunteering there has opened me up to meeting more people and seeing all types of events and films and music. I’ve met wonderful friends here.
I’ve lived in 4 places in my 10 year tenure. The first was in Mt Vernon, a beautiful neighborhood (and where I currently work) with grand historic buildings and a European city feel to it. I was fortunate to already know a few people who lived here and joined the Penn State Alumni Association social softball team where I met Adam and Aaron, who Todd has since stolen as his friends. That first year I ran the Baltimore half marathon and attempted to play basketball again after 7 years away from it and promptly tore my ACL, spending most of the spring on crutches.
When summer came I moved to UpperFells Point, where I was spending most of my time anyway, and rented a whole house to myself! As pure serendipity would have it, several people I knew from Penn State, including two landscape architects, lived within a block and I spent many days and evenings up the street at Chuck and Rachel’s and down the alley at Alex’s. A block from Patterson Park and a short walk to the main Fell’s Point district solidified this as an excellent location. My good friend from Penn State, Kyle, lived a few blocks up the street, and I started to meet more of the people who are now my closest Baltimore friends. Within the next year or two, Todd and I started dating and he moved down to that house in Fells. I remember that time as hanging out in living rooms and backyards, drinking beer, playing music and feeling the delight of few responsibilities that you only have in your 20s.
We moved from Fells into Canton into a tiny house with a roof deck we rented from our friend Kim. Gecko’s was across the street with THE BEST tacos and margaritas you could find. We got married while living in this house and hosted multiple parties, the most memorable of which was a fall Pumpkin Beer fest, where all the guests brought a different kind of pumpkin beer and Todd made a tap out of an actual pumpkin. We probably broke some kind of code by the number of people out on the roof deck that night and I haven’t been able to drink pumpkin beer since.
In 2014 we bought our own house, this time in Highlandtown. While I should have been happy about this, I cried when the news that the bank accepted our offer came in because I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to stay in Baltimore. The house has been a work in progress, lots of painting and slowly giving it our personal touches. It’s a great location, a block from Patterson Park (for the 3rd time, but this time on the best side!), close enough to walk to things but far enough away to feel like a real residential neighborhood. After two years in the house, I got a new job in Mt Vernon and, for the first time, I both worked and lived in the city. Now I have a view of the Washington Monument from my desk window and can bike to work if I want.
And that’s where I am right now! At this moment in Baltimore – I will walk to a combination of the chiropractor, bank, massage therapist, and gym at some point today. I will work on a project in my own neighborhood for my job. I will take advantage of free yoga throughout the city and reflect on the two free music events I saw last week. I will think about how I walked down to Mahaffey’s the other night to have birthday drinks with friends that I’ve know for the majority of my 10 years here. I’ll make some food with the vegetables grown within my watershed. I’ll plan next season’s subscriptions to Center Stage and the BSO and maybe one or two others. I’ll see the park on my way home.
And I still might look at properties in Vermont.
Happy 10 years Baltimore.