Ah, Maryland. Although I leave you today, I will forever carry you with me – in my arteries and in my bloodstream.
The eastern shore of Maryland is full of more fried food than I have ever seen. You can fry anything – fish! cheese! alligator! – and Marylandites do. At the quintessential potluck dinner after my grandmother’s funeral service yesterday, we dined on a steady stream of food, consisting primarily of lard and carbohydrates. After a mere 2 ½ days on the narrow peninsula, I cannot tell you how much I am craving some protein and vegetables. In a desperate attempt for some normalcy this morning, I ordered an Egg McMuffin and a fruit & yogurt parfait at McDonald’s… a place that I refuse to ever, ever eat. But when one is ripped out of her morning routine of “egg on toast, half a cup of yogurt with half a banana sliced into it, 2 cups of coffee,” desperate times call for desperate measures.
In addition to the limited food options, I could never live in Maryland for the bugs: huge, 2 inch flying creatures, humming in the trees at night. Last night, onboard a flat-bottomed boat in the swampy canals adjacent to the Chincoteague Bay, I was eaten alive. I have huge welts on every joint or crease (knees, elbows, ankles, Achilles tendon), streams of toxins spidering their way up my limbs in bright red curlicues.
The air was humid, the sun relentless, the speed traps plentiful, the customer service atrocious, the Wi-Fi nonexistent, the coffee revolting. Even the drinking water came from a place I am sure is called “The Bog of Eternal Stench.” I just wanted to shave my legs, but 7 adults and 2 kids were sharing one bathroom. I just wanted to go walk 10 miles, but the time was too short and the air too thick. I was struck with my own city snobbery, and I could not help but feel claustrophobic: trapped on this skinny strip of land with water on both sides, and tiny towns that just made me feel a little bit sad.
But my entire family was there, and since times like this are few and far between, we can be a little bit obsessed with each other. Amongst the beautiful fields and surrounded by the ocean, we honored the life of my Grandmom with a wonderful service, story-telling, laughing, singing, and celebrating. We are related to basically everyone in Snow Hill, Maryland, in some way or another, and I met cousins, aunts, and uncles that I never knew I had – good, kind, salt of the earth people. Through conversations with these distant relatives, I gained a deeper appreciation for the woman that Grandmom was, and the life that she lived not only as an old woman, but as a young girl. I think that she would have loved to be there for the celebration of her life, and to see her 4 great-grandsons playing together. Her sweet smile will be missed, but as the 4 Parsons girls sang at the service yesterday, “In the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore.”
I just hope it’s not the eastern shore of Maryland.