After the missing party on Folly Beach and seeing R at Buffalo and so on, we got up the next morning, which would be Saturday and drove to Baltimore. In a fit of excessive zeal, I decided to take pictures of every single South of the Border billboard on the way up but that got old quick; the fourteen or so I did take are here. Driving up I-95 is horrible no matter how you cut it, and then this was our first road trip together, so we had to get through the whole "I would like to get off the highway and take rambling country roads and stop a lot and buy weird tchotchkes and take pictures of plastic dinosaurs" road trip ethos versus the "I will stop only when my bodily needs are about to cause me actual long lasting physical damage and even then I am planning to stop for less than 11 minutes or all hell will break loose" road trip ethos. This conversation went fine, actually, because at heart we are really both the second type of road trip person. Also, we had great music with us and we can talk about anything.
Anyhow, we made it and when we got to Baltimore there were friends and food waiting for us and it was all quite awesome. Why Baltimore, you may be thinking? It is not exactly scenic, despite what the damn tourism people are always trying say. Well, it is, but only in bits. Here, however is the reason for Baltimore: 20 odd (very damn odd, yeah) years ago I, who was at that time being what M recently lovingly referred to as Art School Barbie at the College of Charleston, where there were not very many Art School Barbies and I was consequently something of a larger frog in a far smaller pond, moved up to Baltimore to see if I could be Art School Barbie in a REAL art school - to wit, the Maryland Institute College of Art. M is the guy who told me about Baltimore, which I had never really heard of except there was something about a flag and 1812 and some weird ass WWII anecdote my father used to tell about accents. Also, one of my cousins was living there - still does, actually - and thus through an odd concatenation of circumstances I ended up in Baltimore mostly thanks to M. And there we dated for the second time and then broke up for the second time and, because that's how things go, I stayed in Baltimore from my post college early twenties to my mid thirties while M moved back to Charleston for most of those years so our Charleston/Baltimore experiences are almost exactly opposite with weird bits of overlap.
And a bit fraught and also, you see, I am an East Baltimore girl, meaning that I spent most of my B-more life around Butcher's Hill and Highlandtown and Fells Point once I gave up trying to single handedly convert Waverly back into a cool neighborhood (I love Waverly. I like the trees and the farmers market and the small not row houses and all of it but fuck, it's worse than damn Highlandtown for shootings and burglaries and so on and in 1991 I had to move out) but M is a Hampden guy through and through these days. So we did both neighborhoods and because Baltimore demands a sacrifice, M's car naturally got broken into on Patterson Park Avenue on Sunday night. They scattered his pencils about and took some stamps, we think, but nothing else and he fixed the window - it was a little window in the back, not a big window thank the crackhead gods - with a piece of cardboard and all in all there have been worse things happen on Patterson Park Avenue although it was a royal pain in the ass. Apparently we were not alone in being hit - my friend A called to tell me that she saw tons more windows similarly knocked out while walking on Monday from Fells Point up through Butcher's Hill.
Then we went up to Hampden to stay with M's sister R who I hadn't seen in lo these many years and who is totally awesome, has a very cool shop selling nifty dog things called Chow Baby and a very wonderful dog named Spud - no wonder Wegman went with Weimeraners, they're tremendously photogenic. She also has a marvelous cat named Mr. Pickle who we wanted badly to steal and take back down south with us but we couldn't get him to stay in the suitcase. And we went to 34th Street for New Years Eve, which I had never done before and which was totally, totally insanely cool in that very particular on the border of complete gibbering madness Baltimore way.
And we drank a lot of beer and talked and talked and talked, all four days through and drove back to Charleston on Tuesday and spent Wednesday happily puttering around M's apartment and buying him a couch and going to Goodwill and so on. Meanwhile, young M was going through an entire goddamn cord of wood up here in Asheville and this along with the weather reports on the Charleston TV station - "And in Asheville it's well below 0 and they're dying like flies! There are yeti and snow beasts! Ice and other terrifying monsters of the storm! Be glad you're not in benighted Asheville!" - made me decided to come back early, yesterday, that is, and here I am, where eventually I am going to HAVE to tackle that frightening kitchen and buy another cord of wood and, yeah, do battle with the goddamn ice beasts on the tippy deck. They keep coming in the house and jumping up on my lap with their snowy paws.
And that, boys and girls, was my winter vacation and it was wonderful, but I think I'm ready to get back to normalcy or whatever it is that passes for normalcy here at hangover headquarters. And I'm still in love, y'all, and the relationship survived the road trip - any relationship that can survive two 600 mile jaunts up and down I-95 can probably, we think, survive almost anything. Including ice beasts, pterodactyls, four hours of Mythbusters, menstrual cramps and gastrointestinal distress occasioned by the good people at Sonic.