Riding as a passenger in my best friend’s Camry, I gaze out the window while approaching the traditional row houses where we abandon the car. Excitement and liberation overwhelm me as I escape the vehicle into an unexplored neighborhood. We begin our trek downtown but take a quick recess to congregate with two other friends who live a few houses away. Only an enchanting ten minute walk separates us from our holiday escapade through the historic streets of Downtown Annapolis.

We turn down a street and view an exquisite hotel with luxury cars parked out front. Laura and Freddy, leading the journey (since they live in the area), are a few feet in front of us as we approach the Eastport Bridge. The bridge is modest and charming, foreshadowing the ambiance of the city. As Amber, Alex, and I reach the center of the bridge we catch a glimpse of downtown, while overlooking the Severn River. I can’t help but daydream about how breathtaking the view will become once night falls, as well as how breathtaking the boy walking next to me is in that moment.

As we continue strolling towards Main Street, the scenery begins to transform into this enchanting historic town. The sidewalks, as well as the streets, are entirely laid out in cobblestone and brick. I imagine that we are ascending into a time machine and landing in the mid 18th century. People of all ages are lining the streets in red, white, and blue attire. There are very little cars in plain view. Instead, there are people walking in every direction imaginable, in addition to riding bikes, mopeds, and a plethora of boats. As we arrive into the city, a Fourth of July parade is gathering and organizing. The extensive lines of people and decorations feel incredibly welcoming and invigorating. As we stroll through the innumerable clusters of people, it becomes clear that this will be an unforgettable evening.

Alex and I follow the others as close as possible through the crowds and eventually we arrive at a small restaurant/bar named, “Stan and Joes” down Main Street, where the beginning of the parade is in preparation. Inside the establishment is fairly average, but when we step out back it resembles a mini-paradise. The scenery is meant to resemble a beach-like setting and it gives off the perfect relaxing tropical ambiance. There is a separate bar in the outdoor paradise where Alex and I manage to retrieve $.50 beers from a “grab-bag.” Many locals show interest in “Stan and Joes” because of their admirable deals and quick escape from reality. We relax and enjoy ourselves as the parade begins from a few feet away. We begin to hear the marching band, along with cheering, amplify from the outdoor bar. The aura surrounding me immediately feels like home.

After our tropical escape from reality, Alex and I decide to flee the group for a mini escape of our own. We wander aimlessly through the cobblestone streets and admire the antique architecture along the way. Most of the buildings are from the 17th-19th centuries. I begin imagining who lived in these homes and how their lives differ from ours today. We stop for pizza at a small eatery at the corner of Main Street (which overlooks the Chesapeake from a few miles out) called Mangia Italian Grill. While waiting for our food, local cops approach the line. They order behind us and are extremely pleasant and amiable, as opposed to cops in big cities. Alex and I sit outside and observe the scenery surrounding us and the people rushing past. From where we are seated, we have the pleasure of seeing sailboats leisurely floating around the harbor. As we finish eating, the sun is setting across the water in the distance. The radiant sky charms me into the city’s beauty even further. A walk around the harbor, where the land and water gracefully intertwine, is next on our agenda. We witness families on their boats ready to sail out into the bay while many couples share intimate moments along the coast. The streets of the harbor are lined with old-fashioned lamp posts with flowers hanging on each of them. The resonance of the water mixed with the all-embracing atmosphere is ideal for a romantic rendezvous and I feel an overwhelming sense of contentment at that moment.

We meet back up with Amber and decide to relocate to a party on a rooftop that we had previously been invited to by a few friends. Nightfall is approaching and as I imagine watching fireworks on a rooftop, I’m sold. We venture down West Street, Amber leading the way, Alex and I hand-in-hand a short distance behind. It differs from Main Street because it’s less populated − due to the parade − yet it still radiates the notable 18th century character.  We hear shouting from up above and realize we have arrived at the correct house. Just like a scene from an old-fashioned film, a fire-escape is let down for us to scale. After some shaky and discomforting climbing, we are finally able to witness the breathtaking rooftop view of the city. The nearby surroundings of the row houses and the antique architecture are even more colorful and exquisite from an elevated view. The Chesapeake Bay, in the distance, glistens from the moon reflecting off its waves and the bridge I daydreamed about seeing at night looks just as exhilarating as I imagined it to be.

As I exhale and treasure the beauty surrounding me, fireworks begin shooting off a short distance away. Brilliant sparks of red, white, and blue ignite the sky over the enchanting city. Additional people are climbing the fire escape to join our gathering, but no matter how large the crowd gets I only take in the exquisiteness of the scenery, as well as the boy sitting hand in hand with me. As the fireworks reach their grand finale and light up the sky greater than before, Alex leans in to kiss me for the first time. I am swept away and the city’s charm and romanticism reasserts itself.

I feel elated in this delicate, historic city and as we head down the fire escape to depart, a sense of nostalgia engulfs me. We stroll across the cobblestone, passing the antique lamp posts with hanging flowers as we head back toward Main Street. The inspiration surrounding us is infinite, which makes this trip feel like a dream.  As we secede from the time machine and out of the 18th century, I immediately want to jump back in. The adventure was unforgettable and left me with a feeling of pure bliss. A new journey is about to set sail.

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