Less than two weeks after I returned from my trip back “home” to Romania, my husband and I left for another nostalgic visit. This time, I’ve come home to the place where I spent the first 23 years of my life, the Eastern Shore of Maryland. September is beautiful almost everywhere; here, the vivid blue skies and sun-kissed shores absolutely sparkle.
For each of us, there’s a certain type of geography that feels right, that looks the way we think the world should look. Mountains speak to some; deserts to others. For me, the voice that calls to me is the voice of water. Home means lazy, winding rivers with lush green banks, marshes dotted with cattails, miles of flat farmland squeezed between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, skies filled with Canadian geese flying in V-formation. As Steve and I crossed the Bay Bridge after visiting Baltimore and Washington, I felt that old familiar thrill as I smelled the salt water that whispers home to me.
During my decade in California, I missed the history and oldness of the East. Yesterday, Steve and I visited the town of my birth. An unassuming sign announced its establishment in 1669. We walked down brick sidewalks, crossed cobblestone streets, and admired colonial brick buildings with black shutters. On a weathered wooden picnic table on a rickety dock, I ate the best food I’ve had in years – an authentic crab cake. This no-frills cafe didn’t need to boast Maryland-style crab cakes, the woefully inadequate wannabes. This was the real thing.
The people of the mid-Atlantic area have a bit of an identity crisis. The North doesn’t claim us and the South calls us Yanks. We’re neither. So, what is it that gives us our unique character? We may not be as socially adept as Southerners, but we are probably more welcoming than Northerners. We’re not as concerned about image as Californians. Could it be that we are real? People lacking pretension? Could we be genuine, like the crab cakes that symbolize our shore? I think I need to chew on that one a while longer. I’m in the right place to do that. Life is never in a hurry here in the Land of Pleasant Living.