The year was 2001. I was a first year teacher struggling to find my footing in a new city, a new state, and a new job. I had few friends and even less of an idea of where to meet them. During the first week of December, two colleagues took me on a tour of the city, and after that I finally felt like I could get around. They mentioned the lighting of the monument later that week. I grudgingly decided to drag one of my roommates along, and found the experience to be remarkable - literally the first time I felt like I was part of the community and part of the city. I also brought Holden and got a girl's number. Score!
In 2002, there was a snow day on that Thursday and the monument lighting was rescheduled to a Friday. Dangerous. That year, I went with a bunch of friends, and we all started that evening with shots and beers at Sascha's. Later, we moved on to a night of carousing at the Spy Club across the street. They eventually asked me to leave the bar for, uh, excessive spying, but not before one of the most memorable nights I've had in this city. Oh, yeah, we also saw the monument get lit up along with everyone in our group. O'Malley spoke. A choir sung. I think some member of the Ravens cut the ribbon. Great times.
In 2003, I missed the monument lighting. I was wearing those horrible eye patches that I had to wear after the first retina surgery and before the second retina surgery and just wasn't feeling in the holiday spirit. This also happened to be the darkest time of my Baltimore existence. Coincidence that it also happened to be the year I missed the Monument lighting? I think not.
In 2004, I attended again, again with good friends, and again had a great time. It was a return to form.
You know what's coming next. Tomorrow is the lighting of the monument. I am excited. Excited excited excited. John Waters is hosting and our next governor, Martin O'Malley, is again emceeing. Since I'm not going in to school on Friday (I have that baseball coaching conference down in the DC area, and it's a half-day anyway), this could end up being a very fun evening.
More info here: http://184.108.40.206/resources/up194.aspx
We're all meeting at Mt. Vernon Stable before the lighting. I've never been there. In fact, I've always thought it was a gay bar. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But apparently it's actually a restaurant, and it's much more conducive to a 15-month old than Midtown Yacht Club, and my friends are bringing their 15-month old. I'm okay with missing out on Midtown because I'm still bitter about the food poisoning that I swear I got there during the summer and their response when I helpfully called them the next day to let them know what I had eaten so they don't serve it anymore (basically, "Oh, there's no way you got it here." Meanwhile, I don't think I'll ever be able to eat shrimp salad again).
Note: In referencing all those old journal posts from years ago, I realize that I once was a much better writer than I was now. I wonder what has happened to me. Hmmmm.
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