I spent the first seventeen years of my life on the Eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. It's a beautiful area of the country, with Colonial houses, majestic rivers, sailboats, wildlife, cornfields, star-studded skies, and lots of rednecks.
I loved growing up there. I loved living near the river, smelling the marsh mud (nostalgia always smells sweet, whatever the reality) and watching the herons. I loved the feeling of endless space, of clean horizons. The corn and soybean fields went on forever, except where interrupted by deer or some picturesque trees. I loved eating fresh fish and venison. I loved eating corn-on-the-cob from my great aunt's garden, and steamed crabs from the Bay. I loved the black-eyed susans, the brick sidewalks, the heavy humidity, the scrapple, the biscuits with dried beef gravy, and the Ravens. (How can you not like a team named in honor of Edgar Allen Poe?)
I love my family. My mom's side of the family is large, loud, and invasively affectionate. They will feed anyone who enters the door (or even anyone who comes near the property line; my grandmother has frequently made plates of sandwiches, watermelon, and leftover cake for the garbage men). They all live within a twenty-mile radius of one another. They all talk at the same time. They all bicker constantly. They all pry into my private life. Several of them are outstanding cooks. They have all given me money at least once, whether as a gift for graduation/birthday/other special occasion or just because i am young and sometimes tight on cash. I have crashed on their couches, bummed rides to work with them, accepted hand-me-down furniture from them, politely turned down hideous hand-me-down furniture from them, and become friends with them on Facebook. And i have only had to put one of them on restricted access so far.
I love my immediate family, too. But my dad lives in Delaware. My brother is in Afghanistan. One of my sisters is only a year away from graduating and starting college, and the other one is seven and a half years younger than i am. As we both grow older, that gap matters less and less, but twenty-one and fourteen are still worlds apart. My mother's recent marriage to a guy i barely know makes the house even more awkward to be in. I no longer have my own bedroom, so i stay in my brother's room with all of his half-packed things from college and childhood.
And after a while, those endless horizons start to feel oppressive. Sure, you have no limits, but that also means that you have nowhere to go. My town has one movie theater. The second nearest one is thirty miles away. The nearest mall and Walmart are in the same town as the second movie theater. There are no museums, no concert venues, no public transportation, and no Starbucks.
|Yeah. That's actually the whole town.|
I have spent the last four years of my life near Boston.