One thing I’ve learned from teaching and doing faculty meetings via video chat is this: Zoom fatigue is real. And over the winter months, my social interaction has consisted of phone calls and Zoom chats. Not that I don’t value them, but I’ve missed the days when I could go to a concert, restaurant, or museum with friends without catching a deadly disease.
I’m blessed to have a job that gives me a week off in March, and although there will be some work involved, I can do at my own pace, and I can go out of town if I’d like. I decided I needed to spend one night out of my apartment and city. As much as I love both things, a change of scenery was necessary. So I hopped an Amtrak from Union Station to Baltimore. I got to the station early and walked around the neighborhood. I ambled toward the Capitol Building, and I got teary-eyed with longing when I saw that fence blocking the path toward it. I remember this part of the city being packed with tourists going to admire these national landmarks; I remember BEING one of those tourists. I then wrote an idea in my notepad for a personal essay on such a longing that I could submit to The Washington Post or The Atlantic.
I wore my face shield on top of the mask for the train ride because, well, security. It felt nice being able to stare out the window and admire the scenery (even if it consisted mostly of family homes in suburban neighborhoods) because, well, it reminded me there’s a world outside of my neighborhood and these video screens. I also brought a good book called The Age of The Bachelor, recommended by Joan DelFattore, which gives an interesting history of bachelor subculture in the United States.
When I arrived at the hotel, I took a solo stroll at the Inner Harbor and walked down Light Street looking for outdoor dining, of which there was very little. I also craved Thai food, so I ordered spring rolls and Pad Thai from a place called Be More Thai and took it to the Harbor. Sadly, it had gotten dark, and if I can’t see/photograph what I’m eating, I can’t enjoy it. So I stopped off at Moo Moo Cow’s Ice Cream and picked up a single scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream with hot fudge for dessert. I then went back to my room and gorged on my dinner and dessert over a new Netflix movie called Moxie, about a teenage feminist revolution (my kinda movie if you don’t count the two romantic subplots, which I can overlook in favor of the feminist empowerment message).
The next morning, I met Heather at the National Aquarium at 8:45, fifteen minutes prior to our scheduled meeting time (a fellow stickler for punctuality!). She pointed out a Chester Street on a nearby map, which, of course, we’d have to get pictures of later.
We made our way in and saw all kinds of cool sea life, to which I may have kept saying “Hellwoooo, Chester,” as it is my common saying to anything cute (cats, dogs, birds, fish, even babies). The highlight was the private dolphin encounter Heather booked for us, where I learned that male dolphins live in “bachelor pods,” which I love. I don’t love the fact that they get the females pregnant and then leave (our guide, Grey, referred to them as “deadbeat Dads”). Another highlight was when Heather typed “Animals are awesome, humans are waste” into a computer they’d set up for a “phrase wall.” There are times I can get on board with that.
After the museum, we found Chester Street, where we got this cool picture. From there, we stopped for lunch at Kooper’s Tavern, the feature of which was these plastic bubbles that they had set up for outdoor dining (as seen at the top of this post). “Bubbles!” Heather yelled as we passed it on the way to Chester Street. We agreed that life in a bubble would be great: people not getting too close to us, but still able to enjoy life.
Since it’s my Spring Break, I continued my break from my usual low-carb, high-protein diet and indulged in a sausage-adorned seafood gumbo as an appetizer and devoured a crab cake with coleslaw and fries (crab cakes are a requirement when touring Baltimore IMHO). Our conversational topics included 80s and 90s musical acts, politics, and some deeper stuff.
After lunch, we walked back to Heather’s car, and on the way, I got a Fells Point refrigerator magnet to add to my collection. Anytime I travel to a new city, a refrigerator magnet gets added.
After we parted ways, I began a 1.6 mile walk to the train station. I had time to spare, so I looked up “Bakeries near me.” I have a proclivity toward pastries, as anybody who’s seen my cupboard and/or freezer will tell you, and I like “collecting places.” So I found The Bun Shop not too far away, where I tried a chocolate rotiboy bun with some Nutella spread inside. It was mmmm, mmmm, good. And as Heather informed me later, her Fitbit said we walked something like seven miles today, so I think I come out ahead (not that I’m justifying, of course).
I always get ideas for writing projects when I travel, and Heather helped inspire one. A blog post or op-ed piece about pet rent. Seriously, what’s the deal? Babies cause way more damage than Chester ever could. Why do I have to pay $50 a month for Chester when the parent of a human child gets off scot-free? Stay tuned…
This outing was much needed. While this introvert loves hanging solo in his apartment, it was nice to explore a city with a friend I can truly connect with. With all the Zoom fatigue I was going through, this was much needed. Thanks for everything, Heather. We’ll do it again!
My name is Craig. I'm an educator, writer, and unapologetic singleton. When not reading, writing, or teaching, I enjoy hiking, running, watching movies, going to concerts, spending time with friends, and playing with my cat/son, Chester.