The other day, as I watched Mac once again climb onto his little table and go wacky berserk on the dimmer light switches for the entire main floor of the house, I began to wistfully reminiscence about this time last year: His first Christmas.
He was about 7 months old. . .and barely mobile. . .and pretty docile. It was glorious!
This time last year, we weren’t chasing birds the way we have been this year, so we were also checking out other attractions and activities in our free time. Plus, he was so teensy, it was simple enough to cram him in a Sleepy Wrap and walk around with him wherever we went.
For those of you who only know Baltimore from the likes of The Wire, you might be surprised to know what a wonderful place it is for artists. We have great museums, a world-class art school, and really support artists and the thriving local arts scene.
We have a lot of local artists and crafters who share their wares at local farm markets, bazaars, on Etsy, in local shops and I LOVE checking it all out. I like to see what people are creating. And I love the idea that a lot of these items are small, functional, and priced at a point where many folks can enjoy art in their every day lives. . .pillows, and pot holders, and plush toys, and jewelry, and t-shirts, and art prints. . .Oh my! It makes my heart go pitter patter. . .
And full disclosure: about this time last year, I was still toying with the romantic idea of perhaps starting my own little artsy business. . .hanging out in my basement “studio” all afternoon covered in paint while Mac napped. . .watching him play while I worked my display at the farmer’s markets. . .
And it was this sort of delusional thinking that landed us in the Craft Fair from Hell. . .which ironically enough was in a Church.
We park in front of the church, its lawn was littered with ironic-looking old-school bicycles and a hot dog vendor of certainly questionable repute. The church building itself looked as if it’s seen better days.
I promise myself I’ll keep an open mind as I pluck Mac from his car seat and slide him into the Sleepy Wrap. Plus, I’m really excited to see what treasures might await us inside. Maybe I can pick up a few adorable items for Mac’s nursery?
The outside steps of the church are crowded with people who could possibly be homeless. They have scruffy facial hair and are wearing the likes of oversized plaid flannel shirts and finger-less gloves, and humongous cowl-type scarves. However, their very skinny jeans, Starbucks coffee cups, and expensive eye-glass frames prove they are far from homeless. We gingerly move past them into the building.
Sensory overload slammed into me like a freight train.
I swear I felt my heart stop beating for a few seconds.
It was hot. So very very hot.
Even though something told me to FLEE, we pressed on towards the Church’s former sanctuary.
What I saw next is difficult to describe. There before us, was a massive, undulating sea of humanity. The sanctuary had been gutted, leaving a gigantic void of space complete with crumbling plaster, exposed lath, and floating dust visible in the beams of light that were flooding through the sanctuary windows.
Everywhere, as far as the eye could see were people. They looked like squirming maggots. . .Craft crazed maggots in plaid and hand knitted apparel, vying for the juiciest bits of handicrafts.
“Oh shit,” I gasp, certain I could already feel the dust irritating my throat. “Should we take Mac in there?”
Chris doesn’t protest so we take the plunge, throwing ourselves into the churning sea of humanity.
“Stay close,” I hiss at him. “And what’s that smell?”
“I believe that smell is hipster. . .or hippie. . .mixed with Starbucks, handmade soap, and damp, moldy plaster.” Chris whispers.
It becomes readily apparent there is absolutely no order in this joint. Whether this was a function of poor planning on the organizers’ parts or the fact that the place was crammed full of people, I couldn’t quite ascertain.
The vendors were seated behind tables, packed in so tightly that it was difficult for the volume of customers to move past comfortably. And forget about pausing. The crowd was so thick, you couldn’t stop moving, someone was literally right at your heels, pressed almost completely into your back.
I put my arms around Mac, one hand over the back of his head and tried to nestle him closer to me. I was definitely starting to freak. Claustrophobia was setting in. And it wasn’t helping that some asshole was mindlessly waving their Starbucks dangerously close to the baby while excitedly examining some knitted underwear with a mustache attached to them.
Then we came to a halt. Everything was gridlocked. People were trying to squeeze this way and that. I glanced at my position in the room. Both exits were terrifyingly far away. I was certain my heart was going to explode. I tried glancing at the vendors’ tables on either side of me, but I couldn’t see shit. I stare up at the ceiling.
The place is a damned disaster. The plaster is cracked and crumbling. I began to wonder what was keeping any of it attached to the lath. Huge chunks of plaster could certainly fall any moment. How did they even get a permit to hold this huge event in this craphole?
Chris takes my elbow, likely noticing the gray pallor on my face and out of concern I was going to pass out. “This place has to be a fire trap,” he whispers in my ear.
“Tell me about it. All it’s going to take is for one careless hipster to improperly discard their cigarette near the hand-made paper vendors and we’re all going to die a tragic firey death.”
“Have you seen anything you’d like?”
I snort, “I believe I’ve seen what Hell looks like and I’d like to NEVER visit.”
“We’re out,” he says.
We spend the next 15 minutes attempting to “flee” towards the exit. . .at a snail’s pace.
I felt positively giddy as I exited that dusty fire-trap. I was so elated I even smiled at the hipster who blew his cigarette smoke in Mac’s face.
WE. WERE. ALIVE.
I skipped back to the car. We got ourselves situated and Chris started the car.
“Well?” he asks.
I sigh a disappointed sigh. This was not at all what I had expected.
“Screw that. Take me to the closest effing Target immediately,”