...Baltimore. It's imperfect. Boy, is it imperfect. And there are parts of its past that make you wince. It's not all marble steps and waitresses calling you 'hon,' you know. Racial strife in the sixties, the riots during the Civil War. F. Scott Fitzgerald said it was civilized and gay, rotted and polite. The terms are slightly anachronistic now, but I think he was essentially right.
But you were a goody-goody, you said.' 'Even goody-goodies think about such things. In fact, I would say that's what defines us. We're always thinking about the things we don't dare do, figuring out where the lines are drawn, so we can go right up to the edge of things, then plead innocence on the ground of a technicality.
But the central branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library was still a place of wonders to Tess, even if the book budget had been slashed and the hours cut. Her parents had made a lot of mistakes, a fact Tess compulsively shared on first dates, but she gave them credit for doing one thing right: Starting when she was eight, they gave her a library card and dropped her off at the downtown Pratt every Saturday while they shopped. Twenty-one years later, Tess still entered through the children's entrance on the side, pausing to toss a penny in the algae-coated fish pond, then climbing the stairs to the main hall. If she could be married here, she would.