In the late 1990s, a local realtor called me about a house that was about to go on the market. It needed a complete renovation, but it was on one of Baltimore’s most beautiful streets, East Lane, a hard-to-find alley street that backed up to the verdant stretch known as Stony Run Park. A fixer-upper was my only hope of living on that street, but even the fixer-upper price seemed out of reach; I could afford the house, but not the renovations. Reluctantly, I said no.
What I could not have, I gave to Tess, at the end of The Sugar House. Renovations continued through In a Strange City, but she has lived happily in that house since then. Word filtered back to me that the owners knew it was “Tess’s house,” but didn’t mind; it’s not as if tour buses are barreling down East Lane, looking for the home of Tess Monaghan.
Today, I spent the afternoon making a video for this <a href=”http://www.visitmybaltimore.com “_blank”>site</a>. While the site is open to anyone who wants to post a Baltimore-related video, I was one of several locals invited to narrate a tour of my “secret” Baltimore – places that are hard to find, or have little-known trivia associated with them. For example, it’s easy enough to find the Poe memorial at Westminster, but did you know the date of his birthday is wrong? Do you know how to find John Wilkes Booth’s grave in Green Mount Cemetery? Or Hattie Carroll’s home in Cherry Hill? Do you know about the <a href=” http://www.kalismezze.com/”_blank”>lima beans</a>, or where to get deep-fried green peppers dredged in powdered sugar?
Tess’s street was part of my tour. The home owner happened to be there and she came outside – a reasonable reaction when one sees a film crew in front of one’s home – and invited us inside. The house is a thousand times more beautiful than anything I imagined for Tess. While it appears to be a modest bungalow from the front, it is deceptively deep and large, spread over three stories. Built on a steep slope, it feels like a tree house, especially on the top floor.
Look, I’m resigned to the fact that Tess is younger, aging more slowly than I am and has a faster time on the erg. I am happy that she has thick, wavy hair. (I used to say that she out-weighed me, but had more lean body-mass, but I’m now in the “fitness” <a href=” http://www.healthchecksystems.com/bodyfat.htm”_blank”>range</a>, and verging on “athlete.”) I want nothing but good things for Tess.
But, dammit, I want that house.
Anybody else have a dream home?