Quite a few years ago, I found this angel in a little store on a little street in a quirky/funky/trashy/arty, now it’s up, now it’s down, Baltimore neighborhood called Hampden. Hometown Girl it was called and it was very Baltimore. You could easily imagine John Waters walking into Hometown Girl because that little store had captured a piece of Baltimore’s soul in somewhat the same way John Waters has captured a piece of Baltimore’s soul and you know, moneyfied matters. There’s more than a little joie de vivre in my Hometown Girl — with her wings and her pink dress and her striped stockings and that “I’ve always dreamed of performing in Cirque du Soleil” expression on her face. She is unbounded Hampden joy. Pure Charm City magic. Floating, floating, floating above the campy and sad streets.
Hometown Girl handled the big trip from Baltimore to Portland in style. Never complained even once. I can only guess that she’s happy without the crackheads and the stickup boys and the boarded up rowhouses that made her hometown look like Dresden in 1945. That’s just a guess, maybe I’m projecting. Now, she lives year round in our dining room. She hangs from a defunct lamp over a dining room table that we bought in an antique shop in Baltimore. When Hometown Girl looks out the window, she sees that absolutely nothing is going on. Which is so not like before. No shootings. No burning cars. No screaming matches in the park. She doesn’t talk about Baltimore at all anymore. It’s true that we sometimes forget that she is there. But she does not forget us.
So yesterday, December 10, 2011, we took her for a walk to find a suitable background for her yearly Christmas photo. We lay her in some evergreen boughs, we parked her upside down in the crook of a tree, we hung her from a branch alongside a walking path. But it wasn’t until we arranged her in a bush, among these tiny red berries that she came alive and flew. For just a couple of seconds, she was aloft.
Of all the places we have been. Of all the things that we carry.
Hometown Girl. For us and for you.