Changing zip codes…

I moved from the suburbs of Rockville to the upscale urban neighborhood of Federal Hill (Baltimore) a little over a year ago, on April Fool’s Day of 2016, and then, one year later, I moved again to a quieter and less pretentious address in Reservoir Hill in Baltimore.

The reactions to my various residential addresses has been interesting…

The Rockville address: “Wow, that’s so far to drive!”

The Federal Hill address: “Nice”

The Reservoir Hill address: “You live there? Really?”

The last is similar to the reaction I get when I mention my medical specialty, when people ask.  I respond that I am an Infectious Disease specialist, and specifically, I have been mostly involved in taking care of people with HIV infection.  And people respond with “Oh, that must be so depressing…”

Which it is not!  And has not been for at least a decade.

Yes, in the late 80’s and early 90’s, people with HIV infection almost invariably progressed to developing AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), and dying an untimely and often uncomfortable (and too often, lonely) demise.  And, yes, I did get into the business of taking care of HIV/AIDS patients in part because I was angry that other physicians and caregivers were “afraid” to touch the patients with HIV.  It still makes me crazy when I encounter a consultant who makes up an excuse to avoid providing care to one of my patients.

But the real reason that I got into the business of taking care of people with HIV, and by extension, infectious disease in general, was because the virus, HIV, is fascinating – the way that it interacts with the human immune system, and acts like a Trojan Horse by integrating it’s genetic material into the host (our human) DNA!  Genius!  You gotta respect the genius of viruses!  And they don’t even have brains!

And, by moving to Reservoir Hill, I feel like I am again being judged for a decision which has to do with a number of factors that no one else seems to appreciate.  Oh well.

The Baltimore Sun recently sent out a link to a database that you can enter your Baltimore address, and find out how many gun-related killings or injuries have occurred within a one mile radius of that address, since 2015.

The result for my Federal Hill address:

Federal Hill: 3 dead, 31 injured (since 2015)

The result for my Reservoir Hill address:

Since 2015: 67 dead, 193 injured

And, if you center the one mile radius on my Rockville suburban address:

Rockville: 0 dead, 0 injured

So, yes, I live in a more dangerous one mile radius address than I have lived in the past 25 years.  But, oddly enough, my new neighbors have been more friendly and neighborly than in either of my previous two addresses.  In the “whiter” neighborhoods, people might say “Hello” or “Good morning”, but nothing more, typically, whereas in my new neighborhood, people actually stop and have a conversation, and we introduce ourselves, and learn each others’ names.  I now routinely greet Shirley, my neighbor who is almost always out on her porch, no matter what time of day I am coming or going.  Granted, my downstairs neighbor is still a mystery, but, it was lovely today, when I walked out to take a break from household chores and research work, to say hello to a guy down the street on my way out to check out ArtScape, and on my return, to pass the same house, and have him tell me “If God made anything prettier your smile, he kept it to Himself!”.  What a lovely thing to say, and I felt so good as I walked the last few steps to my place.

No one in either of the whiter neighborhoods that I’ve lived in would have given me such a sweet gift!

So, why did I move here?

  1. My Federal Hill apt was lovely and sweet, but, it was noisy, and it only had one bathroom
  2. My new apartment is within a four block walk of my beloved synagogue, Beth Am
  3. My new apartment has two bathrooms!!  So, if one of my boys is pooping (guess who?), we have a spare bathroom to use
  4. No bars letting out drunk patrons at 2am on Friday and Saturday nights, the two nights that my boys are routinely with me, and drunk people tend to blast their car stereos, and yell, for no clear reason, until 3am on both nights.

And, I don’t really want to walk around either Federal Hill or Reservoir Hill after dark, so, I’m not sure that the risk is greater in either location.

Other advantages of my new address?

  1. Druid Hill Park, where I’ve been running regularly since I moved here.  Lovely…
  2. Parking – I don’t spend precious minutes of my life circling my neighborhood to find a place to park.  If I can’t park on the street, there’s a parking pad in the back.
  3. It’s cheaper!!


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