What Makes Somewhere Special to Live?

Recently I’ve been giving a lot of thought about where I live and where I want to live. What makes a place a place? What makes somewhere so fun to be or work? What draws us to places and what keeps us there? Could it be the city that is so energetic? Or could it be the nature that makes us feel alive? How do we decide where to live?

              Everywhere I’ve lived, I have a special connection to. But there’s always one thing about going back to old places you lived. Sure it can be nice to see old spots you used to hangout in. Or your old work or school or house. It’s nice reminiscing about how you lived there or how you spent your time there. However, you would never live there again. Why is this? Here’s my theory.

              Let’s go back to one of my original questions, “What makes a place, a place?” It’s not the old buildings you use to go in and out of. It’s not the old bars you use to hang out in. It’s not your old house that seems like it shrunk. It’s not even your old high school where you thought you had conquered the world by senior year. So what is it? All of the memories you have of that place have one common denominator. It’s the people. The friends. The family. The mentors. The allies and the enemies. That’s what makes a place a place.

              Where I currently live, in Baltimore, Maryland, it’s really nothing special. I mean it’s very nice and fun. But it’s the people that are here that make it what it is to me. It’s the friends I’ve made that make this place special to me. I never thought of staying here as long as I have. But then again, I never anticipated meeting the people I’ve met. I met a fantastic group of friends. I met my girlfriend. And I’ve made strong work relationships while here. My original plan was to stay here for a couple years then move on. Now, it’s been almost 3 years that I’ve lived here. And the only reason I’ve stayed this long is because of the people.

              I had plenty of chances to move, but the people kept me here. Now, something interesting is happening. As some of my friends start to move away for various reasons like school, work, or just fun, the feeling of living here also has changed. It’s as if as friends move away, the spark fades a bit as well. Which makes me believe my theory even more so. It’s the people that make a place, a place. And as the people close to you move onward with their lives, the spark moves on as well.

              As I think about where I want to go next, I am looking at it much different than I did 5 years ago. I’m looking more at the people and the culture. Because that has proven to be what’s important to me. My girlfriend and I are considering our own move now. In about a year or so, we are considering moving to California. I’ve always wanted to spend a few years out west. I really love San Diego or Denver. But since this is more of group decision, we will have to weigh all the options.

              I don’t know what the people will be like in our new home, but I know that the people we meet will end up being what’s special about a certain place. The only way to find out is to give it a try and see for ourselves. So that’s our plan. Baltimore will always be a special place to me because of all the relationships I’ve made here. But there comes a point where it just seems right to move on to another adventure. Let’s see what the West has in store for us.


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