Two years ago after finding herself while traveling the world, Susanna-Cole King decided to revisit her roots in Baltimore, MD. When she moved into her flat in an 1870s Greek Revival row house — “a mansion sliced into apartments” — after extensive traveling, she started out living with her pared-down belongings and new additions from friends and family members. In order to make it feel like home (read more about what that means in her essay contest entry), Susanna began collecting historical objects, learning their stories, and preserving them. In the present day, “There’s immense suffering in this city,” she reflects. “I look at it and see it as a lot of people hurting, and the potential to grow better together. I believe in being present in a community, being a neighbor to the people you want to care for.”
Susanna wanted her home, a veritable cabinet of curiosities, to give guests the feeling of “embracing you in its warmth.” In her space, Susanna prefers for people “to feel uninhibited to probe about all the memories and history and stories woven throughout.” Though her place is unlike any other, Susanna still feels a twinge of envy every time she stumbles upon another home with desirable features. “Then I get in my car,” she says, “And drive around Baltimore, through gritty makeshift encampments under concrete, moldy couches on curbs, men with sunken cheeks, and blistered palms held heavenward, ghosting down the crooked rows of rush hour, with their cloaks of damp bedspreads, and I’m suddenly overwhelmed with gratefulness that I even have a home.” Susanna recognizes that many people in the city have lost their homes, and this coming-to recalibrates her appreciation for having a permanent roof over her head, especially one that offers itself as a canvas for creativity.