It was another beautiful late winter day in Baltimore, sun shining and just a little bit warm, so I treated myself to a bike ride to campus. I had plenty of time, so after wooshing down the hill and taking a right and then a left through Bolton Hill, I followed some new streets through West Baltimore as I vaguely angled toward Arbutus. I was stopped at the light at Lafayette and Argyle, I think, and watched a little police profiling go down. A car with heavily tinted windows was parked and idling up on the sidewalk just a little bit when a cop car inched through a green light, pulled up next to it, and inquired. I couldn’t hear the conversation, but as I rolled through the red I thought about what different experiences different people have in the very same public spaces. I kept on riding, took a left on Carrollton, because there’s one of those in New Orleans, and then a right on Harlem, because there’s one of those in New York. Baltimore looks like both of those places, and also neither of them. I stopped at a corner to snap this picture of a house falling down, after the one next to it was removed. You can’t see in this picture, but there used to be a back porch, but it has simply crumbled now. I wonder who used to sit on that back porch, and where they sit now. I was quite sure I wouldn’t forget the cross streets, saying them out loud to myself, but I did, so all I can say is this is a corner in West Baltimore, on the other side of Mulberry and the freeway, but there are plenty of corners like this on this particular ride. And then I was around and back and heading up the hill to Caton Avenue, took my left on Wellsley, and saw something different: two groundhogs bounding through a vacant lot before hiding under that car. The great wildlife park that is the outskirts of Baltimore City boasts groundhogs! Of course, it took a lot of figuring to figure out that’s what they were–no mask meant no raccoons, they lacked the paddle tale of the beaver, and I don’t know why I even bothered searching wolverines or badgers. At least they weren’t giant rats. The rest of the ride was unremarkable except insofar as it was remarkably nice to be on my bike, climbing the same hills. Yep, it felt like home today.
My wife and I drive around Baltimore and marvel at the crumbling beauty of our hometown. I am lucky enough to remember sitting on the porch of a house that luckily, so far hasn’t fallen yet. There are so many homes both grand and pedestrian that at one time were someone’s pride and joy. It can happen again, but it will take a while. I’ll tell you what’s amazing; the amount of deer in West Baltimore. Mind boggling!
I love that you called it home.