I found myself in the White Marsh Giant today. I rarely go there, prefering to do my grocery shopping exclusively at Trader Joe's in Towson and the Safeway near my house. Giant is easily the most expensive of the three major grocery store chains in the city, and they always tend to have people outside trying to collect money, which I hate. Plus, I don't like it that you walk into it, and then have to walk back outside to get a cart right past the people collecting money. So, yeah, I don't really like Giant.
But I had an eye doctor appointment, and when I left my eyes weren't working too well, and that coupled with the darkness and rain made me miss a street sign. I ended up in White Marsh instead of Towson. The getting lost, as well as the ending up at Giant, hearkened back to my first few months in Baltimore, making me nostalgic for that time in my life. During that time, my roommate and I gravitated towards White Marsh because we knew nothing about the city, and White Marsh at least provided familiarity and easy access. I now rarely find myself there, much preferring the Target, Bally's, and grocery stores of Towson rather than White Marsh.
But tonight I walked through the crowded aisles of White Marsh's Giant, listening to the squeak of the customers' wet shoes and the empty clang of disposable aluminum turkey pans. I rounded the bend where I used to always go and get a pint of Yoohoo, something I had never seen before my move to Baltimore. I was reminded of the winter of 2001. And it was then, suddenly, I thought of her.
You see, it was around then when I fell in love with her. She was still in Michigan, and still engaged to a friend of mine. But we talked all the time, and I was feeling so close to her. Things didn't come to any sort of fruition until the next August, and not really at all until during a wonderful week between Christmas and New Year's of the next year. Talks of moving down to Baltimore to start a life were had. But as sudden as that was, so sudden was the end. And the end of the friendship, among other things.
You see, the girl I was supposed to marry got married last weekend. I had heard about the date from her website in the summer, but it totally passed me by until I made that turn in the grocery store. It immediately made me sad, as thinking about her always does. I think about what might have happened if things had worked out differently when we said the things we said to each other. Then I think about the opposite - about what might have happened if nothing had happened - if we would have still been best friends.
I'm still bitter about it, and nothing will change that. It doesn't eat me up like it used to, and I rarely think about it. Or her. But turning that bend in the aisle, she came back with a vengeance. Even though I haven't talked with her in years, I know she's a completely different person now. She's been "saved" and talks about God and Jesus all the time. She even listens to Christian music. I mean, she and I used to rock to Ani DiFranco.
Of course, I've changed to. I've been hardened by the intense highs and intense lows of my tumultuous Baltimore years. I've moved on from Ani DiFranco as well, but onto the church of hip-hop. Meanwhile, I find I can't believe in much of anything, except teaching.
So what I'm left with of her is just the memories. The challenge I will have during the rest of my life is to remember the 1999-2002 version of this girl, and not the post-2002 version. That's when she fit my definition of who she was as a person, and not the one she became, which I probably must accept may very well have been the real one all along. I just prefer not to think about that. And I wish her the best.
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