Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ode to Fleet Street

As I sit here, at Panera on Boston Street, on a Sunday afternoon, I can't help but reminisce about the house that was a home - 3903 Fleet Street.

I say "was" because it is really no longer where I live. And I say "really" because technically I am still inhabiting it, in a quasi-squatting situation, but since it's ownership changed hands on December 17th, I've had to gradually come to grips with the fact that it is no longer my home.

Here is a brief timeline of my time in the house:

July 2006: Emily and Bryan purchase house, which is being built.
September 2006: House still unfinished, but other house needs to be vacated for new owners. Go live at Godsey's until December.
December 2006: Move into Fleet Street.
May 2009: Bryan able to relocate to Florida, house is put up for sale.
October 2009: Bryan and Emily officially no longer live in house.
October 2010: House relisted
December 2010: Offer made, offer accepted, house closes on December 17. We are able to stay in the house until January 15.

Then the past couple of weeks have been absolute mayhem. I had very requirements for where I wanted to live. I was using Boston St and Fleet St as my borders, so essentially Canton and Brewer's Hill, where I currently live. Since it was going to be easier to find (and ultimately afford) a place for 3 people, myself, Cheese and our other roommate Eric decided we would look for a place together. It was slim pickings out there. Most places around here are fairly small (small being a relative term, everything is small compared to our current crib), and the 3rd bedroom was almost always a finished (or unfinished) basement. We even found a place with a "Baltimore walk-through" as a bedroom. Think of the smallest room you've ever seen, and then make it only have 3 walls.

We thought we finally had it squared away with one place, but due to a high level of shadiness from the owners, that fell through. Roxy the realtor helped us locate another place, which looked pretty awesome, but we found out later that day the place did not possess an occupancy certificate. This is, as you guessed, necessary for occupancy. It was anticipated they would have it be February 1.

With a move-out day of Friday the 15th set, we were figuring out how we would handle it for a few weeks out on the streets. We ultimately came to the conclusion that we would put our belongings in storage, and then crash wherever necessary until the other place was ready, when lo and behold Pat, the guy that bought our house, stepped up and said we could rent back the place from him for a week as he didn't need to move in right away. This was quite helpful. Yesterday I got a call from Roxy saying the house we are trying to move into may even be ready by Tuesday, which would be even better. Of course, I don't trust anything until it happens anymore, so I'll be a little tense until we're settled.

It's an unfortunate end to what has truly been an awesome 4 years of living in what I considered my home. And even though I am moving just a couple of blocks away, the landscape changes drastically.

Over the years the house has provided some amazing times, and was christened with one of the sickest parties ever thrown - NYE 2007. We had at least 50 people over, food and drink were plentiful, and there was no cap on the fun. At some point, the garage door was open and the front door was unlocked as a bevy of revelers staggered down the street to Elliott's. Then Emily's friend Sandy Devine (yes, her actual name) was able to round everyone up and kept watch over the house.

Our annual Superbowl Party, which started in 2006 at 802 S. Eaton, continued at Fleet Street and, until last year when it was impacted by the snowstorm, we've always had pretty awesome, big gatherings for that event.

The house also played host to two of my birthday parties - 2007's Fiesta Birthday and 2008's Olympics Birthday. It has hosted gatherings for myriad sport events, including Terp games, NCAA games, Hubs of Fury 2 began there, we hosted Memorial Day and 4th of July and Labor Day bbq's, lots of fun.

In the 4 years I've lived there, I probably spent fewer than 1% of my awake hours in my bedroom. Always a mess, void of significant natural daylight and with tall ceilings but a tiny closet, I left the fan on for literally 4 years straight, with only interruptions being power outages. I also love keeping the window open during the winter because for some reason I get so incredibly warm up there.

I love the loft - a one-of-a-kind living area upstairs. I sleep on the couch more than I sleep in my bed. The temperature could be adjusted simply by opening or shutting the blinds to the deck. When we had the sweet TV up there, I would watch everything I could in beautiful HD. Lost was awesome, as were Tournament games. I vividly recall the 2008 Kansas vs Memphis championship game, as I realized I was actually going to win my Tournament pool (and $750!) for once, and how beautiful it looked.

The kitchen is awesome, and the fireplace in the living room was a great addition.

One thing I'll definitely miss is the basement. I've never seen a basement in a rowhome this size. It was like a gym. The best cycling studio of all time, I'm sad to see it go. Where else could you chill out and fit 6 bikes in a house to ride? Plus it stored a whole bunch of shit that I now have to bring with me and figure out what to do with it.

I never really used the garage until Bryan and Emily left, but that's awesome too. Parking was never a problem here, which I'll certainly miss, but it was nice to leave it in the garage. Except last year during the snow when our inconsiderate neighbors plowed their snow behind my garage door and I couldn't get out for 3 weeks since the alley sees no sunlight. Ever.

I'll miss being able to walk a block to Royal Farms for milk when I'm out, or just for a Coke or a snack. Or fried chicken late at night. I'll miss Highlandtown Market for how absolutely Mexi it is, but super close. I'll miss the sight of the Snowball stand in the summer, even though I only eat there once or twice a year. I'll miss the enormous feral cats that chill out in the parking lot waiting to be fed. I'll even miss seeing the Eichenkranz sign next door, although I will never eat there again. I'll miss walking to Elliott's, and in all likelihood I won't go back there too much now as it will be completely out of my way.

I'll miss just saying that I live on Fleet Street, and describing to people how to get there: "Uh, you just get onto Fleet Street and keep going. Until it ends." And then a short while later having to re-explain how to get there. I'll miss being exactly 7 blocks from Pat's, up a terrible hill and then down all the way into Fells Point. I'll miss having to then run up that hill, or ride up that hill, at the end of every run or ride. I'll miss Viejo Pueblito and Annabel Lee being on that street. I'll miss being a quarter mile from 802 Eaton or a "mile" from the Square or the Shell station.

I'll miss how shitty Eastern Avenue is. I only go there when I absolutely have to, but it's nice to know that the Chinese place was always there for me. Or G&A Hot Dogs. Or when North Pole ice cream was there. Actually, I won't miss Eastern Avenue. Not even a little bit, not even at all. But it is kind of fun to walk under the bridge to Greektown during Greek Festival. Or, being able to quickly get out onto Haven and onto 40 for Rides, or coming home on Eastern after a Gunpowder loop and being right there.

I'll miss speeding on Haven Street as I zoom down to Boston, or cutting through the dirt and rocks and mud behind Pasta Mista to get home so I avoid the train.

I'll miss saying I live in Canton. Well, actually Brewer's Hill. Nah, let's be honest - it's Highlandtown. But where I'm moving to is full-on Canton now. So no more "Brewer's Hill". That's a big piece of me now, I've lived in this neighborhood for the 5.5 years I've lived in Baltimore, and figured I would live here forever. Canton just doesn't have the same ring.

I'll miss looking out the deck window and seeing Natty Boh wink and smile at me. I'll miss seeing him as I walk home from the Square (he's not going anywhere, and actually my new rooftop deck has a good view, just a different perspective).

I'll miss feeling like I live at the edge of Baltimore. And I really did. I don't anticipate the number of visitors increasing, but it just seemed so quiet and "out there" living at the end of Fleet Street.

The house will always be there, but it is no longer my home. Since I moved to Baltimore I've only lived in two places, and the 4 years I've spent in this one place is the longest I've lived anywhere other than my parents' house. Thanks to living with my cousin, I never had to sign a lease here. I've never had to deal with a landlord.

But, I know everything will still be there, and I'm also excited to start a new chapter of life in Baltimore. I'm excited for this new place because it's so much closer to things. It's 2 blocks off the Square. That cuts the walk time from 14 or 15 minutes to 2. It's not any closer to the gym, or Pasta Mista, or some of the other places I frequent, but it's also not really any or much farther. We have a sweet rooftop deck, something I've always wanted to have in Baltimore, and it was the best configuration of bedrooms, bathrooms and general space of any place we saw. I'm not excited for the parking situation, but whatever, I've had it pretty easy for a long time, I'll just have to get used to it for the next year (at least).

Fleet St has been a comfort, and I'm sad to say goodbye to it. And it may seem silly to get so sentimental about a house, but I legitimately may never live in anything as nice as it was. It was new when we got it and we made it ours (well mostly Bryan and Emily, I didn't really bring much to the table except the parties). I'm looking forward to creating some new traditions and hopefully keeping some old ones at the new place.

And just as we brought Fleet St to life with our first ever NYE party, it was fitting to send it out with a NYE party. It consisted of approximately 1/5 the number of folks, and didn't look as nice, but you know me and keeping things constant - so it was cool to have that be the last shindig we threw.


RM said...

Man I didn't realize how long this was when I was typing.

Sorry to anyone who may attempt to read this.

You really don't have to read it.

fbg said...

I read the whole thing. And a tear fell from my eye.

alyssa said...

yay rooftop deck :) yay tanning!

Dart said...

The glass kept losing until (at last) engaging a glimmer.

Perpetually predictable life is never undergone.

Get motivated and christen artistic nostalgic reserves.

Great post!