There were differences, if you looked closely


Seth Sawyers recounts all the skinny parts of growing up in western Maryland @ The Morning News.
On a map, the state of Maryland, on the East Coast of the most powerful country in the world, looks like a pistol pointing west.The barrel points at the giant hulking hugeness of America, first toward West Virginia and then Ohio and then all that farmland, and beyond that California, the Pacific, and, eventually, China. The fat part of Maryland is low and rich. It’s got money and restaurants and office buildings. But not the skinny part. That skinny part is where I’m from.The skinny part is an outer province, an afterthought, a cartographic mistake. At one point, the skinny part is less than two miles wide. It’s an add-on, a hangnail, a swollen pinkie finger. It’s a place people see on maps but forget about unless they go deer hunting or have a second house there, where they go to get away. People from Baltimore or D.C. call it “out there” or “up there” or “the mountains.”The skinny part is all hills, ancient mountains long worn down, once as tall as the Himalayas but now smoothed out like old molars. On topographical maps, it looks like a tablecloth pushed together from the ends, a worried forehead, or corduroy. Those hills make a horizon that rises and falls like the humps of a sea monster. Those hills hold you like endless warm blankets. They’re green in the summer but, when the leaves fall, they exhale a long breath and fade into their thousand browns and thousand grays. The hills wear clothes for half the year and wear nothing at all for the other half, but they’re always more