1. Crab-based foods — from soup, to cakes, to dip, to burgers — that have the big-ass chunks of real jumbo meat. (You are deeply offended by the stringy, lame crab products that try to pass themselves off as the good stuff.)
2. Having four distinct, intense seasons. Although this may include three-foot-deep blizzards (big ups 2010!) in winter and 110 degrees with 90 percent humidity in summer, at least you are getting all of the weather-related experiences a human can have.
3. Putting Old Bay on everything. I used to be hard, I once saw a man sprinkle Old Bay on his ice cream and thought nothing of it, now I occasionally forget how good that stuff tastes on popcorn. What has happened to me???
4. Going to Ocean City for a weekend in the summer and leaving all caution — and sense of dignity — at home. At a certain age, I think you start classing things up and going to Rehoboth, but I’m not sure at which age this happens, exactly.
5. Driving through Potomac in nice weather and just being like “Godddd damnnnnn” at all of the houses you pass, and trying to figure out which ones are Senators and which ones are Ambassadors.
6. The exquisite joy that is a good Natty Boh. Whether served in a glass with a little Old Bay on the rim, or drunk straight from the can, any true cheap beer connoisseur knows that nothing else can really compare.
7. Summers spent going to the janky Chesapeake Bay beaches and pretending like they were real beaches, but enjoying them nonetheless, and wanting to preserve them. Anyone who has ever picnicked at Sandy Point knows that every year, as you become more aware of how gnarly the water is, you become more and more concerned over the precious few oysters we have left.
8. Knowing that in just an hour-or-so’s drive in any direction, you can have a city, mountains, or beaches, depending on what you’re looking for. And you know that the really hard part is going to be picking which one is prettiest to see during fall weather.
9. Being on the Beltway at 5:30 PM. (JJJJJJJJJJJKKKKKKKKKKKKK.)
10. Being able to go into DC on a whim, spend the day shopping or sightseeing or just walking around, and then escaping the city at the end of the day and going back home.
11. Motha. Fuckin. Georgian. Architecture. Aww, yiss.
12. Going to Baltimore on a weekend and hitting the markets, the harbors, and the adorable little side streets for a long walk. (And wishing that more people would give it a chance and come visit it.)
13. Getting a styrofoam to-go box full of fried clams and french fries, and sitting down by the water to eat it while the boats drift by and the seagulls freak out next to you.
14. Fighting the seagulls, and then feeding them reluctantly because you want to distract them, even though you know that this will only aggravate the seagull problem in the long term.
15. Going through the corn mazes on the Eastern Shore around Halloween and feeling, as a little child lost in corn three times your height, like it’s the most magical place in the entire world.
16. Knowing all too well the acute and important distinction between Redskins and Ravens fans. (And knowing the same does not apply to Orioles and Nationals because, pfft, the Nationals.)
17. Being around other people who know what a Terrapin is, and that it’s not at all a weird thing to have as a mascot, or to dress up as for Halloween.
18. The strange idolization of Cal Ripken, Jr, to the point that you recall him being on the back of your milk cartons in elementary school and seeing posters of him reminding you to do things like brush your teeth or return your library books on time.
19. (Come to think of it, for a while there, it kind of felt like Cal Ripken, Jr was some kind of religious figure.)
20. The incomparable morning radio shows that would play on the school bus ride. (WHAT’S THE DEAL, PICKLES?? IS EVERYTHING KOSHER????)
21. Having the sweetest state flag (by far) in the entire United States.
22. Talking for a really, really long time about oysters, and how important they are. (And how delicious, yes, but mostly how important.)
23. Remembering that, even though people might ignore or forget Maryland as some random East Coast state, it’s one of the best places someone can grow up. It has the range of landscapes, the unique wildlife, and the perfect city-country balance that makes it echo what is great about America as a country. And while you might have left it to follow your path elsewhere, the foundation you got from Maryland is something you’ll never lose. You’ll care more about the environment, you’ll always want changes of scenery, and you’ll be a snob about good seafood. It might make you a little different, but everyone should be as original as the shape of their squiggly-ass state.