First Cut is the Deepest

When I was young, my father lived in University City, in Philadelphia.  My fondest memories with him included walking around at dusk, observing college students playing Frisbee and people walking dogs.  I fell asleep to the sounds of cars and sirens blowing in with the cool breeze– the buzz of city life.  I learned to crave it at an early age.

I knew I would go to school in a city, which is one of the reasons I picked the University of Pittsburgh.  And living there was great!  There are pieces of it mixed into so many of my memories and expressions I still use because I lived there.  It is always still so wonderful to go back.  My time in college, I think, taught me how to love a city.  But, if I learned how to love in Pittsburgh, I didn’t love Pittsburgh… not like I love Baltimore.

Because, the truth is, while I have spent time living and learning and dreaming in many cities– Philly as a little girl, Pittsburgh in college, Galway during study abroad– I was always packing up at the end of the term.  And everything I liked and thought I loved in those places was like a crush I thought was the real thing.  Because I never put down the real roots and I never saw the real flaws.

I didn’t love Baltimore because I was oblivious to its dark side, its rough patches, its corruption.  I loved it in those things.  I knew the different sides of it.  I let it break my heart.  I could be disappointed with the things I saw but I was still loyal.  I squelched much of my wanderlust because I saw value in staying put somewhere, in being committed somewhere.  I learned about myself.

When we were preparing to leave I wrote these few lines of poetry:

Dear Baltimore,

Thinking of leaving you hurts like hell

Because I am afraid that pieces of my soul

Have so intertwined with your landscape

That when I leave I won’t be able to pack them up and take them with me.

I thought that when we moved to Philly something would happen to me.  I thought I would immediately snap back into the little girl feelings I had had about this city, my first city.  I thought I would feel right at home.

I was wrong.  It is so wonderful to live here and we are really enjoying ourselves.  But how can this little crush, this 7 months of trying to find our favorite restaurants to eat at, compare to what I had before?  To 7 years of digging in, taking roots, of knowing and learning that place? Of mixing myself into it?

Don’t misunderstand me.  I am so happy.  But I wonder if there is room in my heart for another city to be to me what Baltimore has been.

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2 thoughts on “First Cut is the Deepest

  1. I love your thoughts and your honesty. After two years, i wait for Omaha to entwine my soul. But I am a gardener. This is an important statement. As a gardener, I have learned that transplants take time to adjust and accept their environment. LOTS of time. I have learned to be patient with myself even as I wrestle with the loneliness of NOT feeling entwined. I believe each city has its own ‘time’ in your life. I am excited for you.

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