Kevin Horne writes on Baltimore, a city he loves:
In high school, I spent what added up to a month each summer in Baltimore going to Orioles games, working, and taking in the city. Few feelings elicit as much nostalgia as a walk around the outside of Camden Yards on a warm Baltimore night, close enough that you can hear the fans cheer again for what is inevitably another hopeful but not-quite-good-enough season. Less enchanting memories, like walking upon the aftermath of a shooting, or being offered drugs you didn’t even know existed on every street corner, or suffering multiple car break-ins, also persist.
But that’s part of what gives the “Charm City” it’s charm. It’s the legendary beer vendor at the game, the bartender at Max’s Taphouse, the professor at John’s Hopkins, the guy selling bootleg t-shirts in the Inner Harbor, or the short order cook at Chaps Pit Beef, all sharing in these same experiences in that beautiful, fucked up place—as Dan Rodricks says—holding out hope that the city will rise to a better place in their lifetimes.
I’ll take that authentic, collective spirit over the well-manicured streets of Silicon Valley any day.
What I wrote in response: “The only type of love there is, I think, is it-could-break-your-heart type of love. It’s a reciprocal sort of love that’s tough to have in a New York or a San Francisco, because those cities will be fine (better off?) without you. But a Baltimore, a Philadelphia, etc. need people more–they need love more. And it’s always in real loving that there’s vulnerability and authenticity.”
On the other hand, you can create or contribute to “specialness of place” anywhere you go. This was, in a way, once the idea of civilization—that you could bring a love and a sense of culture with you to a deserted tundra, if you wanted, and eventually make it a special place worth living and worth visiting.
And if you can do that in the tundra, you can do it in Baltimore.