The Copycat Building was unlike any place I had ever lived, and any other resident of the building can concur.
The building, built in 1897 as a manufacturing warehouse and converted to studio-housing in the mid-1980s, is home to many local art students and other creative types, and was waiting for me with open arms when I needed a change. My brother had a room for rent in his unit, and I had a need to start over. That’s when Baltimore became my home.
I moved into the B-side of the Copycat in July of 2016, with a car load of my most treasured earthly possessions and a need for breathing room from my past mistakes. Up to that point, I had been crashing at my parents place after the demise of yet another relationship earlier in the year. I feared growing too comfortable with the arrangement at my folks place; had my brother not asked me to live with him, I would have continued to shelve my unhappiness and stay with our folks. I’m a fan of punishing myself; I felt responsible for the ending of the relationship and my sick, heartbroken brain justified the misery as karmically deserved.
The Copycat Building taught me lesson after lesson in self-reliance.
Things that I was able to lean on former partners for in the past were suddenly mine to tackle. Basic plumbing, minor carpentry, damage control in the form of leaky ceiling prevention were learned incident by incident. My Google search history for the first few months there must have been bizarre, a broad mix of HGTV results and porn. You know, the latter to blow off steam.
While at The Copycat, I learned how to write again. What helped this process was living with and among several creative people. My roommates, as well as other building residents who I met during my stay, were so passionate about their own work that they helped reignite my interest in my own writing. Following the breakup in February, I was at a creative standstill. I was unable to write, and up until that point, writing had been my only real outlet. I tried to fill my time with other hobbies, such as cross-stitching and painting, but none were as satisfying as the written word, and while I knew that I desperately wanted to put thoughts to paper, I couldn’t focus; I couldn’t quiet my mind enough to tell the story I wanted to tell. Too much interference.
But in time, that changed. There were enough people in my life encouraging me to express myself, and after battling some angst and self-imposed resistance, I was able to write again (fair-to-middling, at best).
Living at The Copycat wasn’t perfect.
It was the first time since college that I had experienced living with other people (who weren’t partners or family), and that had its challenges. As a person who isn’t as assertive as she could be, living with (mostly) strangers definitely forced me to get in touch with that side of myself.
Then, of course, there were the leaks, the unchecked white privilege of MICA students, the flies and other rodents, the paper thin walls, and the noise from other units on work nights, to name a few points of contention. But for every thing that was wrong with it, there was one thing that made it the place I needed to be at that point in time.
So, newly 30, single, and once again at a crossroads in my life, The Copycat found me, took me in, and nudged me towards independence.