Buhlmore, Hun . . .

I was "back east" all last week, for work. My company has an office in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC and I am always happy to get to go back and spend some time in the DC-area. This particularly trip was doubly wonderful because we had some meetings in Baltimore (a place where I lived, while still working in DC and considering myself a "DC-guy" for about 18 months).

I loved Baltimore. I really, truly did. It is a fantastic example of a city that seems forever on the edge, forever on the rise, and forever on the decline. It is a true "American City" in every way - as the slogan "BELIEVE" (still visible in random places around the city) would have you, well, believe.

Many people only "know" Baltimore because of TV shows like The Wire, or Homicide: Life on the Street, and movies like Failure to Launch. Ha. You just mentally admitted you saw that friggin' movie and it stuck in your craw or because of that random cake show that was on for so many years (might still be) or for sports teams like the perennial "blah" Orioles and the rapist, murderer, and domestic abuser employing Ravens. Oh, oh . . . and crabs. The food, not the STD.

I feel bad for people who only know the city in these ways. If I'm being honest - Baltimore is not, in my opinion, all that different from Wichita. Sure, sure - it is way bigger. It is more diverse. It has higher income ranges and more art and culture but where it really counts . . . the cities are similar.

People and history. Pride and tradition. These four things are the cornerstones of Baltimore and, for those of us who aren't so focused on being cynical and negative about it . . . they are the hallmarks of Wichita, too.

I have not been to Baltimore in a few years (my younger brother's wedding was the last time I snuck inside route 695) and, frankly, it is very different than I remembered and there are lots of the city that I have all but forgotten - including which exit I needed to take to get to my old house and where that one really random coffee shop I used to love so bad (I can't even remember the name of it to Google it).

I wonder if anyone ever comes back to Wichita, nine years removed, and considers how we have changed and grown and if they can still find that one place they loved so bad. I sorta' hope so. I sorta' BELIEVE they do.

Baltimore - a great American city.