Edited to add: Oh hee, it seems the City of Baltimore is 280 years old today! Happy birthday, Baltimore!
And now, the rest of Hopkins and Baltimore. I’ve always been jealous of people in my life who move abroad. Then they come back to the States and they know the language and the customs and how to do things here as well as their other country. I realized in a small way, I do have that. In Baltimore. It was nice to get off the train and immediately know where I was going, what I was doing, and how to get there.
This is what most people think of with Johns Hopkins, except without all those poles. Maybe they Photoshop it. Anyway! Up there is the main library, called MSE, where people less slackery than I studied and in front of it is “the beach” where people more sexy than I sunbathed. In fact, even here in the Summer, there are some out there. Those school buses belonged to hordes of high school students visiting and being led on various tours. They were everywhere when I was visiting. I willed one of them or their parents to ask me a question so I could answer, “save yourself! Don’t come here!” but no one did. As I walked up the oval to MSE, a white-haired man holding a pile of library books caught up to me and despite my headphones started conversing with me. This doesn’t happen to me in NY but occurred several times this day. I kind of loved it. I pretended I was still a Baltimoron and the conversation went like this:
He: Are those high school students visiting campus?
Me: I guess so… seems like it.
He (mischievously): They must be! Who else would stand in the sun like that?
Me: Or at least they’re not from Baltimore.
He laughed uproariously and I felt good. Did I mention? I really feel at home in Baltimore.
Wow, picturesque! I really know how to showcase the place, don’t I? In fact, this dead end garbage dump area is where I went every single day to eat. That white door on the right was the entrance to the Kosher Dining Hall and by “Hall,” I mean a room with a long table, two sofas, a stereo, and a little prayer area, plus a kitchen. This was religious Jewish life at Hopkins while I was there. But, you know, I met College Boyfriend there which is why of all the places I see when I visit, this is the one that has a 100% chance of making me cry. I’m not sure whether it’s the fact that it no longer exists there as a testament to all the things that happened to me there or if it’s the memory of all the good and bad events in general, but there you are. A lot goes on in a one room area you visit every day for four years. It’s all locked up and I don’t know what they use it for now; I pressed my face up to the dusty barred window and tried to peer through the slats. Nothing but darkness.
Now they have a building unto themselves off-campus. It’s stunning and luxurious. I cried when I visited it three years ago and knew I would never go back. They used to ask me for money to fund it. Fuck ‘em.
Feel better? This is what college is supposed to look like. That’s the lower quad, mostly because the main focal point of the upper quad was under construction and covered with scaffolding. In the distance there is Shriver Hall where they had concerts, amongst other things. I saw Ministry there before I knew they had changed their sound to… nothing like their old sound. That was a surprising show. A couple of years after I graduated, I volunteered to take one of our artists at my first label to his show there. He was my idol and I thought by coming back as somebody, I could show Hopkins that they hadn’t trampled my spirit utterly. That feeling lasted for a month or so. But don’t worry, I did ultimately get my self-esteem back.
Moving right along, I did eventually hop on the #3 bus and go down to the Harbor to see my store. Of course, it isn’t Sam Goody’s anymore, because the Musicland/Sam Goody chain is dead, but I hardly expected to find what I did in an upscale tourist mall, which was a discount dollar store. In fact, it was so bare-bones that it was called “A Dollar.” It was run by an immigrant couple who were so lax on security that I managed to take BlackBerry photos all over the store, including the back room. I meant to post them all with captions like, “here’s the slatboard where I used to organize the Maxell and TDK blank tape and here’s the area where I put a thousand cassettes and CD’s into a thousand plastic theft-proof ‘keepers,’” but in the end it was too depressing.
After that, I read the Baltimore City Paper and sipped fresh-squeezed lemonade while watching the scene at Harborplace. And then I met up with Alex and Steph and other friends from my current life and that was a nice end to the day. But just as we were finishing our dinner, a giant storm came out of nowhere to wash away the humidity for a moment. That happens everywhere, New York too, but somehow it seemed like I remember it more from there. I was glad it happened. Because whatever transpires in your life, you can always count on the rain to come and clean it up for you.
Title comes from a song of the time for me (you never really realize how depressed you were until you re-listen to the depressing songs that remind you of the time, do you?):
Depeche Mode – Oberkorn (It’s A Small Town)