I was super excited about meeting author, writer, hip-hop diva-extraordinare Aliya King at the meet-and-greet in her room at the Tremont Hotel in Baltimore. I paid way more than I anticipated paying to get some of my favorite pieces that I’ve written printed in color and bound up at Kinkos (apparently now known as “FedEx Office?” It will always be Kinkos to me!) I steamed my favorite Anne Klein dress-suit: a bright pink number with a huge black patent leather belt and a bright pink mini jacket. I buffed my four-inch patent leather black stiletto peep-toes, grabbed my black leather attache’ and hopped on the Marc train to Maryland.
The ever-reliable Google Maps instructed me to get off at the West Baltimore stop, then to get on the bus to downtown Baltimore, and walk 7 minutes to the Tremont hotel. I had no intention of getting on the bus, and figured I’d just grab a cab from the train station. After befriending a nice, tall man who was sipping from the largest can of beer I have ever seen conspicuously hidden in a brown paper bag, I de-trained at the West Baltimore stop.
To my horror, I discovered The Wire is real: abandoned row houses upon abandoned row houses next to an abandoned store across from a highway exit. No bus stop, no actual train station, no taxis in sight. Just people on stoops and corners.
When I asked a man who had also just got off the train where the Tremont Hotel was, he laughed and said, “no where around here!” And went along his jovial way. With no apparent help available, I decided to hit the pavement –in no particular direction– while I Googled Yellow Cab of Baltimore.
When I connected with the cab dispatcher, I tried my best to describe my location to her: “I just got off the Marc Train West Baltimore stop, I’m by some row houses, the street signs are knocked down so I’m not sure which corner this is…” She seemed quite concerned, “Oh no, ma’am! Um, we’ll have a cab out to you in about 30 minutes, but I’d suggest you get somewhere safe until then, ok?” No problem at all!
So I’m obviously feeling particularly unsafe in an unknown neighborhood, carrying my only worldly possessions that matter — my ring, my laptop, my wallet and my iPhone– and walking the streets of Baltimore in a bright pink dress and stilettos, looking like the black Pretty Woman. I was approaching a group of gentlemen on a corner (and yeah, I clutched my purse, my life, my everything else, because I’m a woman and that’s what I do when I see a group of men anywhere and I don’t have my piece handy). But I ultimately decided that purposeless walking was a terrible idea and that I should just head back towards the train stop and wait in the parking lot for the cab.
As I turned to walk back the other direction, a man in a Chevy Impala honked his car horn and pulled over next to me. Thankfully(?) it was the jovial gentleman from earlier, as opposed to an undercover police officer with the wrong idea. Still laughing, he said, “Get in! I’ll take you to the hotel.” I hesitated, and then glanced back up the hill towards the group of cornerboys. I figured that I had a 50/50 chance of getting in this man’s car and coming out alive at the Tremont, and those odds were good enough for me. “Thanks!” I said, and hopped in.
My mind quickly transitioned from wondering if this man was a serial rapist, to wondering if he thought I was a low-priced hooker (since no one was waiting at the train station for me. This is just how my mind works.) To assuage his totally hypothetical concerns, I started throwing “Jesus” in all my sentences. Jesus sure did send me a blessing by you stopping to give me a lift! Woo, bless Him! What a friend we have in Him!
He just responded with a, “no problem at all. It was on my way,” and made no inquiry into what my business was at the hotel. He dropped me off with a “good luck” and was once again on his way.
I made it to the Tremont in perfect time to get the most out of the meet-and-greet with Aliya, who was extremely hospitable and whom I now absolutely adore. She shared with us secrets of the industry, the how-to’s of publishing a book, and gave us an opportunity to network with other writers in the area. And that night, we were all bound together by not only an awesome experience, but also a solemn pact –what was said in the room, stays in the room. And I am a woman of my word.
But Aliya definitely has wisdom to share with readers of The Dithering, and you know I will get the scoop for you and bring it back ASAP. Look for a post on Aliya S. King and her new book Platinum soon. (available for pre-order on the right side panel!——–>)
To conclude, my adventures in West Baltimore (and poor planning) were completely worth it, and once again, I thank God for watching over fools and babies. Clearly, the Marc Train stopped running back to D.C. waaay before I was finished with the meet and greet, and I fortunately hooked up with two natural-hair-sistas who gave me a lift back to the metro. People helping people — it’s powerful stuff.