Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Letting Go of Baltimore

This past weekend I started packing up the first apartment my girlfriend, Kate, and I shared.  Next month, we're headed up to Providence for a short-term opportunity that's just long-term enough to make keeping our place unfeasible, so I decided to take some shots in our bedroom, which has always had the prettiest lighting.

I talked a little about the packing process in my last post--cleaning and readying for storage--and at the back of our closet waited this dress, a full-skirted 1950s yellow gown.  I wore this to an event nearly three years ago, during the exact period I was still trying to convince Kate to like me.  (It took a little effort.)  I wore it with red suede pumps and a bunch of red flowers at the waist and felt invincible, and in retrospect, I suppose I was.  It might have helped that the shoes were a little inspired by what turned out to be one of both Kate and my favorite movies, When Harry Met Sally: "Oh!  I've been looking for a red suede pump!"

I remember wearing it and just hoping.  I haven't worn it since, and though a lot's happened over the intervening years, it felt fitting to wear it again as we said goodbye to our first apartment in the city where we met.

For this shoot, I paired it with a 26" Doris Petticoat in peach.  I didn't wear it the first time around, but the volume and soft texture it gives are just beautiful.  "Lush" is the word usually associated with this particular brand of petticoats, and I can see why.

This move is bittersweet, as moves usually are.  I hated Baltimore, but we loved that apartment.
Kate and I lucked into the place, as a friend of ours moved out just when we'd started looking, and though it's not perfect--the refrigerator leaks, there's a crack that reaches from my dresser to the ceiling, the flooring is uneven, and the stove lives in a weird and likely unsafe alcove--after living in artist housing for a little too long, it was ideal.  

This corner in the kitchen housed the tea paraphernalia I picked up in Moscow, St Petersburg, and Istanbul. You know. Like you do.

I got Kate started on collecting records; she became more enthusiastic about it than I'd predicted...

The living room was always a little dark, but it and the bedroom were the only rooms we really put a mark on.  I'm not sure if we somehow sensed it wouldn't be a long-term home, but we didn't settle in completely.

See also: storage bins as side tables.

I originally moved to Baltimore for a year-long fellowship, just after completing my Master's degree.  Towards the end of my fellowship I met Kate, I wore a yellow dress, and I decided to stick around Baltimore, where Kate had a job, to see what might happen.  Kate and I fell in love; I fell into an employment rut.

It's been a hard few years.  I realized not long ago that in the time Kate's known me, I've never worked fewer than two jobs.  For most of our time together, I've had three.  I worked as a bartender, a waitress, in cosmetics retail, as a script reader, a theater usher, a crepe maker, a temp receptionist, and took a couple freelance theater gigs, emphasis on Free.  I looked for real, sustaining work in the Baltimore/D.C. area in any field I could for about two years and turned up nothing.  In all that disappointment, the home Kate and I made became a kind of sanctuary.  We adopted a cat; we bought records; we made breakfasts.  But a home isn't much use if you can't pay the rent or fill the pantry, and though we loved this apartment, I hated Baltimore.  Baltimore beat me up and kicked me around.  Baltimore felt unsafe and isolating.  Baltimore burst my post-graduate school naiveté and brought me down to earth, and I carried its weight in anger around my neck.  It was suffocating me.

The first job I applied to in New York, I got.  I believe in signs, and this was a Sign.  Though New York hasn't been what I expected (is it ever, for anyone?), it's slowly confirmed the change in focus that my time in Baltimore forced.  I'm not sure I'll do the same work in theater moving forward--I still haven't figured out how to make ends meet, and I cannot turn 30 this year without some stability--but it's given me space to breathe and much-needed perspective.

Kate and I kept this apartment when I moved to New York because she does have employment here, and her security is why I tried so long to make that city work.  We're not really sure what comes next, and for two anxious people, it's a little scary.  But to make room for a new possibility, we have to let go of what we know doesn't work.  And along with it, we're saying goodbye to this place we've loved, and thanking it for being exactly what we needed for as long as we needed.


  1. What a lovely, heartfelt and personal post. I really enjoyed reading the story of you two and this place. It was very touching.

    I know the exact feelings you have toward this apartment too. We have moving on our horizons right now, and I know when the day comes, I will be sharing many similar feelings on my blog.

    The dress is absolutely lovely by the way!


    1. Thank you, Janey, your comment means a lot. It's a little sad but I'm really hoping the risk'll pay off. Do you know if you guys plan on changing cities?

  2. That dress is to die for and I can see why Kate fell for it.It's nice to know what you are both up too and what ever happens remember you have each other and some people spend their whole life's trying to find that.
    I always think home is where ever you set up camp with your loved one.

    1. That's a really nice thought, particularly as we prepare to shutter the apartment tomorrow. I'm down for the weekend to schlep everything out to storage, and it's pretty barren and slightly depressing, so I'm staying an extra day down in Baltimore so we can give it a proper send-off. Or give ourselves a proper send-off? Either way, I'm feeling pretty much what you described, and I'm really ready for us to be in the same place again and set up house, at least for a little while.
      And thank you for the compliment, I'm hoping to find an opportunity to wear it again-- it's a shame it's only seen one and a half outings.

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