Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Finding Your Place
It's been almost two years since I moved to Maryland. At the time, it was the hardest thing I've ever done, and I cannot say that I gracefully made the change. The Capitol Region seemed hurried, busy, and rude compared to the small-town Southern life to which I was accustomed. Here, no one serves sweet tea, traffic does not merge, shopping carts are shopping carts not buggies, and you certainly don't smile at every person you pass in the grocery store. If it hadn't been for Mark, I'm pretty sure I would have conceded defeat and flown back South immediately.
Our first year married, we rented a two bedroom apartment. Perhaps it was the transient nature of apartment renting, but we never really got to know our neighbors. After living there for a whole year, we knew maybe three people. (And one of these people was the property manager; so, I'm not sure if he counts. Although he was very friendly.)
A favorite professor of mine once mentioned that the key to feeling at home in a new place is to find your favorite spaces. Not just indoors, but outside as well. We know our homes--inside and out--we know our favorite shady spots under the trees, we know our gardens, our pastures, our favorite parks and walks. In Georgia, I knew where the best blackberries grew, where the mountain laurel bloomed. I knew the best hiking spots.I knew where the deepest spots on our creek were, and where our horses liked the graze. I knew the land as much as I knew my house. But, here, in Maryland... I didn't know much outside of the work-grocery-store-home triangle.
It wasn't until we decided to purchase our little old house and move downtown that Maryland started to feel more like a home.
Living downtown required me to spend more time walking. Walking our pittie Solo around the block, walking downtown for coffee or food, and walking in the nearby park. A slower pace, walking forces you to take stock, to notice the small things, to smell, hear, and taste the things around you. Walking forced me to get to know this place, to learn it step by step, to discover it foot by foot.
Now, I know which houses have secretly beautiful backyard gardens. I know where the bunnies like to hide. Who knew cities had bunnies? But they do. They nestle in backyards, in the tall grasses growing in little-used alleyways. I know where the quietest benches are located in the park. I know that the Memorial Garden is always cool thanks to the shade cast by the large oaks that grow there. I know where some of Frederick's hidden murals are tucked downtown. I know where the country's oldest and largest ginkgo grows, its leaves showering gold. And I know my own backyard: where the sunlight hits, coaxing tomatoes and peppers to root, spread, and grow.
I do still miss the Deep South with all its humidity, mosquitoes, peaches, and howdy ya'lls, but I have gotten to know Frederick a little better this year. And I have to say, the quirky old belle has her own idiosyncrasies, beauties, and graces, all worth knowing.