When I came to Baltimore, my heart was totally broken. I was running from the memories of yesterday while actively hoping that I could salvage some dreams along the way. I needed to be somewhere that would allow me to cry and not be ashamed. I needed to sit down for a while and take off some of my emotional baggage. I needed to be somewhere that people would laugh with me rather than at me. I needed to be somewhere that understood that I was tired. I needed to come to Baltimore. I needed to come here because Baltimore not only recognized, but understood my pain. In Baltimore, my pain was not unique. In Baltimore, I could take off the mask that I would have been required to wear if I remained where I once lived. There, I was haunted by ghosts of yesterday. There, I would have been required to pretend that everything was okay. It wasn’t okay. There, I would have been expected to simply get over it when my heart wasn’t able to do so. Like a good grandmother, Baltimore took me in, wiped my tears, and slowly gave me a reason to smile again. I’m so much better now. As I did before, I’m beginning to recognize that it’s time for me to go. My season of Baltimore is coming to an end, and for the first time in almost three years, my heart is both strong and brave enough to begin again. I owe that to love, Baltimore, and an undying belief that my life wouldn’t always be so painful. When I leave Baltimore, I’m leaving as the truest version of myself that I have ever known and shown. You see, Baltimore doesn’t give you much room to hide from your true self. In Baltimore, I learned that despite my pain, I’m still capable of goodness. Each morning after I leave my home, I see people with not much to smile about defiantly and beautifully smile anyway. I watch them dance to the pulsing sounds of house and club music as though it is a spiritual form of release and cleansing. I watch them celebrate their families, communities, schools, churches, and local watering holes. I’ve seen and felt so much beauty here. Dear Baltimore, as I type this post, I want you to know that I am so thankful that you took me in and mended my wounds. Thank you for encouraging me. Thank you for believing in me when I didn’t fully believe in myself. Thank you for the music. You have given my soul stories to write about for years to come. As the sun begins to set on my time here, please know that I will never forget you. You see, even though I wasn’t born here, you have made me a Baltimore warrior, and for that I am eternally grateful. On the next stage of my journey, I hope that I make you happy and proud. Charm City charmed some of my demons and convinced them that they should reside elsewhere. Today, they’re gone. I’m left with the dreams and hopes that I had before the pain. I am so blessed. Patrick
As always, this week, please do something for someone else for no other reason than to make their lives better. As I always say, if you make it to where you’re going, please don’t forget to leave a map for the rest of us. Always Choose Love.