I am not really sure where I live. My mailing address says Perry Hall. But the area is better known as White Marsh and that’s what I tell anyone who asks.
When I look both places up on Google Maps, Perry Hall looks like the profile of a man clutching his chest, head thrown back, mouth ajar. Abutting it to the south, White Marsh looks like a whale breaching the sea-line (as defined by the I-95), one flipper above water, the other a dark shape just under.
As if all this wasn’t confusing enough, my mail comes from the Nottingham post office. (I vividly recollect the mild disappointment I felt when I learnt this from the nice folks at the Perry Hall branch) My pizza is delivered from Nottingham as well. Google Maps, on the other hand, thinks Nottingham is just a shopping complex and the bit of road beside it, though there are locations that assert otherwise. Nottingham Drive however, happens to lie in White Marsh. No wonder I haven’t seen Nottingham becoming part of any conversation yet.
Yet. Because things change. Today, there are only a couple of signposts, barely visible to us zipping past at 40 mph, that testify to Perry Hall being established in 1775. A sprawling estate governed from a 16-room mansion named after the owner’s ancestral home back in England, Perry Hall became the name of the surrounding area and for some time, even the arterial road nearby. Then, in the last quarter of the 20th century, a mall came up in White Marsh.
Over past decades, the sprawling Perry Hall estate had lost much of its imposing spread. Now even its space within the public memory was crowded out by the young upstart, White Marsh, Retail Therapist.
But does the story end there? Communities continuously shape and reshape themselves. I realize that Perry Hall may never reassert itself. But, maybe someday, Nottingham will have its day in the sun. Not that it matters to the squirrels who traverse the woods or the cardinals that flit across the fuzzy boundaries with impunity.