A Girl of Two Cities

Up until I was 18, I lived in a tiny New England town just outside the suburbs of Boston. Our town was so small that we had one high school which we shared with two neighboring towns. Even then, my graduating class was only 300 students.
At 18, I moved eight hours down the coast, leaving behind my family, friends, and hometown. I moved to a college town outside of Baltimore. The town was five times the size of the town I grew up in; hell, Towson’s campus itself was twice as populated in a fraction of the space. I became “Rachel from Boston”; it was my fun fact on the first day of classes and during our orientation floor meetings; it was what I said while three quarters of the other students listed off which Maryland county they were from. I’m Rachel, from Boston. I’m not sure what county I’m from because I’m not from Maryland, and quite frankly, classifying yourself by county is freakin’ weird.
I’m 21 now and still in the same college town. I’ve lived in four different buildings in the past five years, but always in Towson. And I’m still Rachel, from Boston.

I have made up my mind about staying in Maryland, at least for now. I have already renewed my lease, promising I will be here for at least one more year. My roommate (who is also my best friend) plans on staying in the area. My boyfriend, a born and raised Marylander, has a job here; his whole family is here. I will not be moving back to Boston anytime soon.

So… when do I stop being Rachel, from Boston? And more importantly: will I ever be Rachel, from Baltimore? Do I have to live here for another five years? Fifteen years? Is it like a green card? Do I have to marry a Marylander? Have little Maryland-born children who are raised drinking Old Bay-seasoned formula? Do I have to sell my soul to the Ravens (which will only happen if Joe Flacco himself pries it from my cold, lifeless body) or simply rent it to the Chesapeake Bay, to have it mixed into crab dip and returned?

Boston is part of me. I still say “wicked” and “rotary,” and I’ll be damned if I ever stop that. But, if I’m being honest, I like Natty Boh (if I’m forced to drink beer), and I think pasta is better with Old Bay. I will never love the Ravens (come on, I grew up fifteen minutes from Gillette Stadium. My Brady jersey is ten years old), but I have been to more O’s games than Sox games. I’ll only have Massachusetts license plates for another year. (Maybe then I’ll be a true Marylander?!) 

I am a child of Massachusetts, but I’ve married Maryland. There is nothing left for me in Massachusetts; I’ve outgrown it. I used to spend summers in my hometown, and there was nothing left for me. My friends had moved away, my family had continued their own lives, and I was working a summer job I had come to hate. When I went back to Maryland for the start of the school year, it welcomed me like a grandmother. I missed you. I’m glad you’re home. Make yourself comfortable. Have something to eat; there’s (crab) pizza in the fridge. 

Maryland is my home now. I have a lifeone full and wonderful, bursting at the seams with love. I have a boyfriend who talks to me about marriage and buying a house (in Maryland, of course). My best friend lives in the room beside mine; we have two kittens that have become best friends themselves. I have a job I love, an apartment I love. Sure, at times, it’s lonely. I’m the only liberal in a group of people who love guns and “traditional marriage” (what even is that?!) more than most people I know, and my family is 400 miles away from me at any given moment. The girls I work with all went to high school together, making it impossible for me to join their friend group; in fact, most of the time, I feel like an outsider watching a production of a movie I didn’t have a chance of being cast in. But I have a roommate named Lindsay, from Buffalo, who shares my political views and my love of frozen yogurt and pancakes, so in the end, things are pretty okay in Maryland.
The truth of the matter is that I don’t really want to be Rachel, from Baltimore. I love my Boston roots. I love saying words like rotary and wicked and frappe. (Google it.) I love going to Dunks for coffee, even if nobody know what the hell I’m talking about. While I’ll always roll my eyes when someone asks me where I parked the car, I’ll secretly love flexing my Boston accent and replying “Havahd Yahd” (which you can’t actually park in!! Come on, people, don’t be ridiculous). Being from Boston makes me unique. It makes me interesting. And mostly, it makes me Rachel, from Boston. Who needs a last name when you get an entire city to define you? Maybe one day, I’ll be Rachel, from some random county in Maryland, but for now, I’ll take my iced-coffee-in-January-loving-self and be proud of being Rachel, from Boston.

By Rachel Pfeffer
Illustration by Lauren Gilleland

1 comment

  1. Very well written. As a "Baltimore Girl" we know that when you are asked where you went to school...it's which high school not college. Welcome to Maryland!