When I accepted the offer of a job on The Baltimore Sun's copy desk in 1986, my wife and I moved to an apartment in Towson, two years later buying a brick ranch house in Northeast Baltimore. But thirty-five years later, as a resident of Baltimore, I cannot claim to be a Baltimorean.
First of all, I do not have grandparents who were born here.
I did not attend City College or Poly or any other Baltimore high school.
My indifference to the Orioles and the Ravens is complete, now that I no longer have to sit up waiting for their interminable games to end to get final scores into the paper.
Perhaps most seriously, though I enjoy Maryland crab soup, I dislike picking crabs. The process is reminiscent, not in a good way, of dissection in high school biology class, and the reward of the crab meat is not commensurate to the effort required to acquire it. Not even accompanying glasses of beer make the process alluring.
Oh, there are many things I appreciate about Baltimore: the heron I occasionally see on my walks down the hill to Herring Run, the Cone Collection at the Baltimore Museum of Art, my progressive parish (Memorial Episcopal in Bolton Hill), the now-closed and lamented Hamilton Tavern, the Pratt Library, our day-drinking group at Zen West.
But really, three decades and more later, I'm still an auslander, an expatriate Kentuckian who responds to the blooming fragrance of the locust tress in spring as a reminder of the locust trees on the other side of the Alleghenies. (My wife discerns occasional traces of my original Kentucky accent, but I would not, nor should I, ever attempt the Baltimore accent.)
Living in a place which, comfortable as it has been, is yet not quite a good fit reminds us that we are all pilgrims, finding our way through the world.