I've never really wanted to live anywhere but here. I can't relate to people who pine for the mountains or the seashore. I like it here. I like the rolling hills and the grass and the trees. When I go somewhere else it feels alien. Hiking has helped me be comfortable in more environments, but no place feels like home to me but here.
I've spent short periods of time living in Minnesota and New York. I've taken long vacations in Florida, Texas, Arizona, California, Maine, and Colorado. They were nice enough. But they weren't home.
I've been interviewing places to see if they'd be good retirement homes. Some place a little less busy, with warmer winters maybe. Maybe Virginia, Tennessee, or the Carolinas. Much further than that and I don't know if I'd ever get used to the vegetation. Even if I did, everything else is different. Even the major chains change as you move farther away. In our consumer nation, not being able to buy the brands you're used to is its own source of alienation.
Despite my love of this place, I'm also ashamed of it. I'm ashamed of racism (both the regular and inverse kind), the lack of grand geological features, the lack of distinguishing characteristics. One time a man in Texas asked me where I was from, and when I told him Maryland he thought it was a small town in northeastern Texas. Maryland does not stick in people's minds.
I wish my home state would be kinder to pedestrians and bicyclists. I wish I had more restaurants to brag on. I wish our schools were better. I wish there were more trails and fewer strip malls with empty storefronts. I know I'm lucky to live on a street where I know my neighbors well enough to use their shower or their guest room if something goes wrong at my house, but I also know that's uncommon here.
But still, Maryland, I kind of love you. You're cute, with your bifurcation and your blue crabs. From your watermen to your farmers to your hillbillies way up in the northwest, you have diversity. Your long history of horse racing means I can buy a new horse trailer a mile from my house if I want to. You have four distinct seasons. You might not have a bounty of ethnic businesses, but I can get Ethiopian, Malaysian, or Korean food if I know where to look.
Stay green, Maryland. Keep those rolling hills. Keep those generations of watermen safe, and keep those crabs safe too. You know I can't resist you.