Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Where I'm From

I grew up in Columbia, MD. My family lived on a beautiful estate, really. It was weird sort of, because a lot of stuff was broke. And it all broke more all the time.

But I loved that house. So many things formed me there. And I look to them now, making me great in corners and highly flawed in pastures, feeling like some kind of rambling Capote kid from his first novel.

My dad sold the house after my mom died and moved to a townhouse in Rockville. The whole things sorta gone into disrepair since then with a series of quasi- and absentee owners. It's all real literary.

As a fundraiser now, I have come to know really rich people. And I don't think my folks were REALLY rich, but we lived on an estate. It was such an estate that there were "outhouses," including an ante bellum slave quarters. -- a Maryland that most folks'd dream to forget.

...all this in a dream town called Columbia that James Rouse designed in the 1960's. Now, Howard County residents are working to renovate and restore the building. My mother is buried in the cemetery outside of Columbia, nearby.

Below is a description of the restoration project from the Howard County Historical Society:

"The two-section, two-story structure is thought to date to the early 1700s, when it was part of the Woodlawn manor property. It is believed to be the oldest surviving slave quarters in Howard County."

And here is a link to the article in the Baltimore Sun about present restorations that are underway.

Here's a picture of men from Worcester Eisenbrandt Inc., a company specializing in historic restoration, at work on the "crumbling Woodlawn Slave Quarters in Columbia." (Sun photo by Christopher T. Assaf, Apr 4, 2007)

Mr. Michael "If it ain't me it's my wife who's in the New York Times" Chabon is from Columbia, MD, an' he's written a whole book about it, sort of.

"Mr. Chabon, 43 grew up in Columbia, Md., a newly formed community with a utopian flavor and very few people and houses. “It only existed on paper,” he explained, “but we had this map, a project map of how it was going to be. And then it came into being as we lived there. So I got really into this early on, that you could imagine a place and it would come into being.”

Here's a picture of Chabon in Alaska, where he has placed his "newly formed community with a utopian flavor." Now Michael Chabon and I live in the same town again -- Oakland, CA.

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