I have now lived slightly more of my life in Columbia than I did in Baltimore. I arrived in Baltimore in 1985 and, over the course of fourteen years, lived in three different apartments in Bolton Hill and two in Rodgers Forge. Before that: Princeton, NJ; South Hadley, MA; Stamford, CT; and Cleveland, OH.
I say this to prove that I have been other places.
Last week I drove to Parkville to pick up an item I was purchasing on Craigslist. As soon as we got off the highway and onto the local roads I felt the difference. Joppa Road, Putty Hill are all familiar to me as places to shop when I lived in Rodgers Forge. But now it all looked different. There's plenty of retail on Route 40, but is all set back from the road. It was interesting how much I felt that difference. The businesses seem crowded up towards the street.
Then we entered a neighborhood of modest brick houses with neat little front yards. Everything felt foreign to me. In the past fourteen years I have grown used to Columbia architecture. I have grown to accept shops and houses set back from the road as the norm. (Historic Ellicott City being the exception, of course.)
I had to laugh at myself. It hasn't taken very long for me to become completely acclimated to the Bubble. And clearly I don't get out as much as I used to. Almost everything I do is in Howard County these days.
When I first came to Columbia everything looked weird. It would never have occurred to me that someday all that weirdness would become what is normal for me. It's nice to have a place that feels like home. I have learned to appreciate the Bubble. But I don't want it to completely dominate my world view.
I need to get out more.