Baltimore, Smaltismore, what to make of you?
First night in the city, I crawl into bed (a super small mattress plopped on the floor) and listen to the shrill sound of sirens wailing out the window. An ambulance light glares through our makeshift curtains of hammocks and towels and lights up our room with a red glow. Someone shouts in the street. My husband and I look at each other and shake our heads. Welcome to the Charm City?Yet there's no turning back now, we are here to stay. Time to embrace our future. We open up a bottle of wine and toast the city with styrofoam cups.
The morning paints a prettier picture. Sunlight streams into our bedroom. No sirens yet, only a few birds that can't wait to be heard. I usually love staying in bed for as long as I can, but this morning, my desire for coffee is too great. I force myself to emerge from a mountain of blankets and throw on my warmest clothes. Time to find a a local coffee shop! Hmm, where to go? I decide to walk north and pass a few dogs pulling their still yawning owners along. I spy a few people drinking coffee out of paper cups that aren't from Starbucks and I know a delicious coffee shop is just around the corner, somewhere, if only I can find it.
This early morning coffee run in Baltimore is the first of many I can already tell. There is something truly magical about an early city morning. I have always felt this magic whenever I have ventured out into the city for school or work or travel. I think the magic steams off of a mostly empty sidewalk stretching out in front of you and all the places it can take you to. The magic comes with the excitement of wondering who you are going to meet today and what conversation you will have that could change your view from horizontal to vertical.
As I walk past strangers on my coffee expedition, I wonder where they are going and what they are thinking about. Even though I don't talk to these strangers, we do acknowledge each other as we pass by sometimes with a nod, smile, or step to the side.Inside my head I wish them well on their journey today.I love the simple fact that no matter what the differences are between myself and these strangers, we are all experiencing the same beautiful city morning together.
Ta da! I finally find an awesome coffee shop which is clean and modern and filled with happy patrons sipping their coffees, reading the paper, and chatting and laughing. I pick up two steaming cups of java and after fixing them with cream, head out the door. After one sip, I am sold. I cannot wait to come back here and settle in with a paper myself one future morning. As I walk home, a guy on the street shouts "You must REALLY love coffee" at me as I pass by him holding an extra-large coffee in each hand. I laugh, and reply "Yes, I do" and we both laugh again. I walk the final blocks back to the apartment and ring our doorbell so my husband can let me in. Waiting on the front stoop I think "yes." Yes, I am beginning to like Baltimore, and yes, this is just the beginning.