12. Falling for Fell's Point, Baltimore


College is where my real adventures began. Up until that point, I had just been to a few local places, mostly just school trips and an occasional family vacation—and not that I wasn’t grateful for those experiences, it’s just that going to college opened up my freedom to explore on my own.


I had the chance to travel with my roomies wherever I wanted to go, whenever I wanted to go. A trip to Jersey City; spring break in Ocean City; going to my friend’s house in Philly; tours of local Lancaster, Hershey and Harrisburg; and of course, those oh so fun road trips home playing New York State of Mind by Billy Joel as we crossed over the Verazzano Bridge. But the trips I remember most fondly are the ones to Baltimore, Maryland.


From the very first moment I entered Baltimore, I fell in love.


I don’t know what it was about the place, but I wanted to live there one day. I had friends from home who went to college there; friends from my college who lived there; family there—it was a whole different world for me, but not quite sure why. It was just a plain old city, and had the same old suburbs like I had experienced elsewhere. But there was a kind of magic in the air that kept drawing me back there, over and over. I kept finding reasons to visit Baltimore throughout college—and even years later after graduation and marriage.


One of my strongest memories was a time I was visiting a friend at Towson—and if I remember correctly, it was my first trip there. We drove down there and stayed with her and her roommates, and we went out to this strip of bars at Fell’s Point. This was a big deal for me. I had been to underage-approved clubs and managed to sneak into a bar, but at (my) naive age of 19, I never experienced bar hopping—or using a “fake” ID to get in.


A girl I knew back home had given me her old license—she was maybe 7 years older than I was, but we were uncannily familiar in appearance. I remember being so nervous about getting caught and going to jail (my imagination might be a little extreme), and my friend did everything she could to calm me down so that it wasn’t obvious to the bouncers. I mean, I have a transparent face—I can’t lie or hide the truth for shit. It is impossible for me.


So we get up to the bouncers and hand them our IDs. He takes one look at mine, and lets me in. Ironically—my girlfriend did not get in; the kicker being, she actually WAS 21, but they didn’t believe her license was really hers. Eventually they let her in, but it was pretty funny that I stressed and got in no problem, and she had the issue.


So we all get in, and I am in awe. Yup—in awe of an overcrowded, sticky-floored, loud, obnoxious dance club.


The music was pumping and I could get any drink I wanted. It was such an amazing feeling to have this freedom, and for the first time ever, I had no inhibitions. I wasn’t afraid of dancing, or what I looked like, or if guys would be interested. I was just loving every part of my new environment—and with my guard down, that’s probably why I had such a blast. We danced all night. I met a guy, danced with him and even kissed him on the dance floor. It was pretty hot for my first real club experience. I felt on top of the world, and I actually had very little alcohol in me. I was much more high on life experience than anything else.


So we jumped from bar to club and back, and with my newfound confidence, I didn’t sweat the fake ID. No other place was as “magical” as the first one we were at, but we all ended up having a blast before taking a taxi back home in the wee hours of the morning, as we sang Green Day at the top of our lungs.


The next day, we went on to enjoy the sights of the Inner Harbor —and I loved it there, between the water and the energy. So with the fun nightlife and the calm day place, it was easy for me to just want to move my whole life there. I ended up going back several times—enjoying it every time, in different ways. At the time, I was single with no specific plans for life after graduation, so I had decided that when I did graduate, I would be moving to Baltimore and would find a job there. It was my heart, my passion, my

future.


Little did I know that all my plans were about to change because of a boy.


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