I thought a lot about the similarities and differences between New York and Baltimore when I first moved here. Last week, after meeting someone who recently relocated from New York who had a very different reaction to the new city than I did, I am left considering Baltimore again. Reflecting on the place, people, communities, myself and the transformation I have experienced while being here I write this post.

The person that I met did not like Baltimore at all. The friends I was with said that it was a place you had to warm up to. For me, I loved it as soon as I got here, it felt like home and even though its problems are visible I appreciated this because it allows for a certain honest discourse that I have not found in many places about our history, current circumstances and the prejudice and unfairness that result from the past. 

I find Baltimore a place where people are willing to engage. Where meaningful interactions happen more often than not, if one is open to them. This is where the conversation took us. That Baltimore is great if you are open to it. The man I met was not, although I think he was really trying to be, just didn't know how. The question in our conversation that rubbed me wrong was about the segregation in Baltimore, visible because of its relationship to race and class. This is what struck me when moving here that depending on where one went people visibly segregated. "Which one do you like best?" I was asked, as if in life you had to choose only one environment or social circle to be in and maintain that as a constant. This is what I mean about being open, I think there are many beautiful people and communities in Baltimore and if you are open to them, you can have many wonderful experiences and interactions. If you are not open, many people that may be different from you in one way or another become unaccessible and thus someone to avoid or fear.

In the first week I moved to Baltimore, someone spoke to me while I was in the grocery store about how I shouldn't buy the stale looking bread at the bakery counter. She had my back in a way that I had not found from strangers in New York, but of course I had to engage in order to find that out.