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A marriage made halfway between Baltimore, D.C. [Column]

This summer, I celebrated my 33rd wedding anniversary, which is exactly the number of years I have been a Laurelite. I have had no regrets about either move.

When I met and married a girl who lived on wide and wonderfully roomy Montpelier Drive, she talked up the benefits of moving from my hometown of Silver Spring to Laurel, 20 minutes north.

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"You'll like it, Laurel is refreshingly quiet and friendly," she assured me, before dialing (it was a long time ago) the phone to talk to the priest about booking a date for the wedding. "The farther you are away from Washington, D.C., the better the quality of life," she emphasized.

Initially, I had a few gripes about moving here. I knew that she would often ride the Greyhound bus to her job at the Department of Agriculture in downtown D.C. Frankly, that struck me as more than a bit bizarre, akin to the Pony Express days.

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"You know, where I come from, we have what's called the Red Line train," I bragged over eggs and sausage  at Denny's, circa 1980. "It will take you to places like Takoma and Fort Totten and way beyond. We also have Metrobus down there. They run every 10 minutes or so."

Clearly, I thought the world revolved around the nation's capital and its adjoining suburbs. Anything more than 10 miles from the White House automatically labeled you a High Plains Drifter. How smug of me.

Coffee in hand, she remarked she didn't care how she got to the office, as long as she got there on time and in one piece. "As long as I can avoid the traffic jams on the Baltimore/Washington Parkway, which puts me closer to all that congestion and pollution in your hometown. Besides, there's always the MARC train. It's really comfortable and the conductors are very warm and polite."

The other issue we had during my adjustment period was what local newscast I should watch.

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She didn't seem to have a favorite, taking Washington or Baltimore daily reports in equal measure. I, on the other hand, would accept nothing less than D.C.'s Eyewitness News on Channel 9. The late sportscaster Glenn Brenner was hilarious, a stand-up comedian sitting down in a TV studio. Trouble was, in this primitive era, we were at the mercy of rabbit ears on the little portable in our starter apartment in Maryland City.

"Why do you care what town your news comes from?" she asked, as I desperatetly turned and twisted the antenna to bring in Channel 9. "What's wrong with watching Baltimore? I was born in Baltimore and I still care about stuff that comes out of there," she reminded me.

On the face of it, she was absolutely right. What was wrong with it? Was I that wed to the news from down south? Couldn't I accept the challenge of adopting news from up north? Again, my air of superiority was showing.

In time, I took the hybrid road. While not giving up entirely on D.C., I also made room in my life for Charm City's version of murder and mayhem. At first, I didn't care if there was a three-alarm fire in Dundalk or an impending dock workers' strike at the Port. But here's the thing: My beloved Washington Senators baseball team had fled the friendly confines of RFK (then D.C.) Stadium a decade earlier. And while I felt like a traitor at first, I came to embrace the Orioles. However, if I wanted to get indepth scoops on the Birds, the only way to do that would be to tune in to channel  2, 11 or 13.

That dovetails perfectly to the print media. "We need to get a subscription to the Sun," she announced, as I hooked up a coat hanger to the rabbit ears, desperate to pull in the D.C. airwaves. After I pleaded that we were strictly a Post family, she applied the same logic to ink on newsprint: "Who cares?" That stopped me. At that moment, I realized how truly blessed I was to have a wife who was not a journalist, a finicky gatherer and distributor of events.

"The Post has more foreign bureaus than the Sun," I argued. That didn't impress her in the least. She liked the Sun for its hometown folksiness that reflected the city it served.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would say this, but I today, 396 months after exchanging vows and piloting a Ford Escort to an on-the-cheap honeymoon in Myrtle Beach, we have a house that's nearly paid for, two productive kids and  a network of outstanding neighbors and friends. I still pull for the Birds and not so much the Nats. And yes(!) we have a subscription to the Baltimore Sun and not to that other paper that Nixon cursed.  As for TV news, WJZ's Denise Koch continues to bring her training as a professional actress to bear on the small screen, though this time in an image where rabbit ears are no longer required. She helps make the good and the bad stuff go down so much easier.

As for getting to and fro, we also have had, since 1984, daily Metrobus service in Laurel. For that, we can  thank Frank Casula, Laurel's late mayor, who engineered the deal, as only he could, while serving on the Prince George's County Council.

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