Adieu, Maryland

America has this smell, you know. It’s aromatically neutral and you only notice it when you land at an American airport, but it’s there all right. Off the plane…sniff…ah America!

Four years ago I caught my first whiff of Maryland. It was a steamy summer’s evening. I had two suitcases and a bike and was ready to begin my life in Baltimore. Lutherville, actually, but Baltimore will do.

I have a few memories of those first weeks. Catching the Orioles at Camden Yards welcomed me to America at her best; a little later, the Washington Sniper welcomed me to the worst. Soon, I will be leaving for Europe, a welcome change, but one that leaves me with a pang of anticipated homesickness for the great state of Maryland.

Some of it is personal. We came here with Jacob and added two more, so Maryland will always be synonymous with our young family, the happy memories of young children. My Jacob is almost seven; he was two when we arrived, barely potty-trained. Now he seems so grown-up. Ditto William. And our Maryland Mary with her US passport will always be our most vivid American souvenir. This golden age belongs to 11 Nightingale Way, Lutherville, and I am desperately sad to say goodbye.

Some of it is Maryland. Here’s what I love: the northern Baltimore corridors, all colonial mansions and wide lawns; the Inner Harbor glitz; the rolling hills of Appalachia; the feeling of freedom as you escape over the Bay Bridge to the Eastern Shore; the rickety boardwalk at Rehoboth Beach (Delaware, but close enough); the proximity to legendary places like DC, Philly, New York.

I have grown fond of Maryland, of America. When the sun shines on Americans, I think they have the best life in the world. I drove down the mainstreet of Myersville, Maryland yesterday (a town at the foot of the Appalachian Trail) and felt a nostalgia for something I have never even experienced. I thought of prom queens and summer parades, ice cream and barber shops. It’s a happy thing to have lived in America, to have breathed that smell, even if it is sometimes only a dream, an illusion. The United States has many problems and her leaders do not always act in her best interest, but I wish her well. America has a friend in me.


  1. Thanks Brock. One freezing cold hike, lost in the woods, and a glorious campover at Annapolis Rocks will enter Head family lore. Tales of Brock and Kent will be told when I’m an old man.


  2. Well, that just means that I’m going to have to plan a trip to England or wherever you move to in Europe, now doesn’t it?It’s funny that I found your email about this post, actually, because I was thinking about you just yesterday as I watched the Manti Pageant (The Mormon Miracle). I didn’t find the pageant itself to be so overwhelmingly spiritual as I might have expected, but I did find the material playing in my head (a.k.a. Comforter brings all things to rememberance…) to be VERY uplifting. I think I’ve told you a little about the struggles I was having around 5 years after becoming a Latter-day Saint, and I know you’ve read at least one of my doubt-ridden posts, but it’s amazing to me how much things have changed just over the past six months.Life finally has peace and balance, and that’s what matters most. I think the past 9 years have been incredible, and I look forward to infinity-years more!!


  3. Ronan: Maryland was graced to have had your feet walk its green and pleasant land. You are a gifted observer, and I look forward to following your future reflections about your time spent in Baltimore. Godspeed.


  4. “My Jacob is almost seven; he was two when we arrived, barely potty-trained. Now he seems so grown-up.”I know all about that. It’s hard to believe my oldest will be baptised in six months.


  5. Brought tears to my eyes.I’ll miss you Bun…just longing to see you on Mum and Dads deck soon.I love you.


  6. R–You it was good to know you, and I (and my Italian better half) wish you all the best back in Europe. Of course, I expect you’ll be back in the Mid-Atlantic from time to time, and I’ll make a point to be there, if only to talk soccer and Assyriology (?!?) and (some) politics.L


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