Tag Archives: rome_ga

The Firehouse/Alley

A couple weekends ago I ended up at the club at the Gansevoort Park hotel. Luckily, this time I did not spend 30 minutes trying to find the exit… Progress? It’s been a while since I’ve been in a club and even longer since I’ve been in a club and was sober enough to know that I was in a club. I’m pretty sure the last time I went to one, I kept yelling, “BUT I DON’T WANT TO TAKE THE SUBWAY,” only to get downstairs and realize that what I thought to be the entrance to the train station was actually a flight of stairs leading to the club entrance. For the most part, I really hate clubs. I go through several stages of panic attack, anger at whomever brought me to the club and then overwhelming Atlanta-withdrawl because rap is not playing before I eventually give in (get drunk) and start dancing like an idiot.

As I was dancing on some sort of stage/partition/elevated dancing area that night, I was brought back to a time when I had high hopes upon entering the club and danced on stage/partition/elevated dancing areas almost every Thursday night. At that time in my life I lived in – yup, you guessed it – Rome, GA.

By the time I started college at Shorter, the idea that I was free to go ‘clubbing’ as often as I wanted was more excitement than my adolescent brain could handle. I’d spent years listening to Britney Spears’ songs about clubs and trying my hardest to copy that weird hip thing she does in the I’m A Slave For You music video. Despite the fact that I was so awkward I could barely function around the opposite sex, let alone talk to someone I found attractive, I was certain that the second I stepped into “the club,” I’d be transformed into a dancing goddess, paired up with an Abercrombie model who’d fall in love with my enticing moves.

I’m sure somewhere in my partially functioning 18-year-old brain, I had an inkling that this wouldn’t really happen. For one thing, I was pretty sure Abercrombie models didn’t hang out in a town best known for being minutes away from the carpet capital of the world. Additionally, I’d been to a couple teen clubs back in Atlanta and the closest thing I’d gotten to my fantasy club experience was getting pinched in the ass by a white guy wearing a du rag.

Along with this already overwhelming proof, I had a sneaking suspicion that I wasn’t the best dancer. Being fat in high school didn’t lend itself to my having a lot of practice dancing – I think I can count on one hand the number of times I danced with a boy. So from about 13 to 18, my main dancing partner was the wall in my bedroom. I spent countless hours listening to 112 and R Kelly while arhythmically grinding against this one wall in my bedroom, determined to win over my imaginary A&F boyfriend the second I was let into a club.

When I say I hated my teen years, I really, really mean it.

So after a couple weeks of hanging out with the sorority girls at Shorter, Rachel and I got invited to College Night at The Firehouse. The Firehouse was pretty much the only club in town and, even then, I use the word ‘club’ lightly. I can’t think of any other club in which I’ve danced on a stage right in front of a morbidly obese trucker while he chowed down on a plate of wings. It was a sports bar with a stage, but we soldiered on and danced all night. After our first week at The Firehouse, it got shut down due to health codes, or underage drinking, maybe a stabbing – who knows. It reopened a couple weeks later as The Alley and it was no different.

Here’s a picture of the time my friends from high school came from their real colleges in New York and DC to go ‘clubbing’ with me at The Alley:

A few things to note:

1. The X marks on our hands. I never once got drunk at The Alley… so I don’t know exactly how I handled the fact that I was steadily developing strong associations between the smell of chicken wings and clubbing.

2. These X marks also served as a means of semi-public shaming at Shorter. They were difficult to remove from one’s hand and the next morning in class everyone with the X marks would be glared at by all the more religious kids. To this day I still wonder if they knew that X marked the fact that we weren’t drinking.

3. My gold dress. This is a perfect example of how I felt about clubs. While everyone else in this photo is wearing jeans, I’ve decided that a cocktail dress should be worn… Just in case. I’d been going to the Alley(Firehouse) most Thursdays for a year and a half when this picture was taken.

4. My high school friends, who’d been to real clubs plenty, still describe this night as one of their favorite Shorter College moments. I think it ranks in third after the time all the white girls did the Soulja Boi dance in the student union and the New Years we ended up at a party filled with lesbians rolling on E.

I haven’t been back to Rome since 2007, so I can’t say for sure what happened to the Alley. I heard it closed down.. Something about fire codes. Either way, it taught me two valuable lessons –

1. No, you will not meet the love of your life at a club.

2. No, you can’t dance like Britney Spears.

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Secretly a Suitcase Campus

By the middle of Welcome Week, my desire to whine to Mark had dwindled. I was by no means happy in Rome, but my feelings of misery turned into a numb acceptance. The sorority girls were friendly to us and the feelings of newly found freedom were sinking in. One night Rachel and I stayed with the off campus boys until 3 AM. When we drove back to school and the only repercussion was the judgmental look of the night guard. I felt exhilarated for a moment. I was at college.

Sometime that week we went to lunch with one of the off campus boys and his friend. A town favorite was Harvest Moon Cafe on Broad Street. I think the fraternity President waited tables there and they served salads that vaguely resembled something from California Pizza Kitchen. For some, Harvest Moon was the hippest.

I’ll never forget that lunch because it was the first time I felt The Numbness. That afternoon at Harvest Moon, Off Campus and his friend (who I’d later learn was Austin’s roommate) sat across the table from Rachel and me and discussed hunting.

My mind wandered for a moment, and I realized I was no longer hearing their words. I’m from the South, but I’m not so southern that twang is immediately comprehensible. As they drawled at one another the words blurred together.

“So, lay-ust Wednesday we were hunting’ and ah saw the cahrayziest thang, it wuz lahk a durdurdurduhduh….” 

“Aw, Hay-uhl naw! Sheeeee-ut!”

I do love the South. I love rednecks, BBQ and I have the letters ‘ATL’ tattooed to my wrist. I have a lot of Southern pride, but, in this moment, the South felt alien.

It got worse. “Say-uh, Tiff-nay. What’d ew git on your S-Ay-Tee-uhs?” One quick note about me at 18 – I was an intellectual snob. I didn’t have any luck in other areas of my life so I clung to the idea that, at the very least, I was smart. I used this to justify my being incredibly judgmental towards anyone who wasn’t. I told Austin’s roommate my SAT score. I knew by intellectual snob standards that it was just OK. It may have been the reason Harvard didn’t welcome me with open arms.

Austin’s roommate’s jaw dropped,

“Shee-yut. Why are yew here?” His score was roughly half mine. I was under the impression that’s the amount you got for filling out the Scantron form. I paused briefly, I had come up with a lot of answers to that question in my first week at Shorter; I got a full scholarship; I’m going to be a musician; It’s God’s Will. Usually one of them would pop out of my mouth before I had a chance to consider whether or not I believed it. This time it didn’t.

“I have no idea.”

…….

On Friday night, Rachel and I decided to go to our first Welcome Week activity, which happened to be the last activity scheduled for Welcome Week – the Fitton Student Union party. Why, you ask, did we finally want to go to Welcome Week activity? Boys. Definitely just for boys. Earlier in the week I’d seen this boy walking with a group of Freshman participating in a scavenger hunt. He was tall, and wearing a cross t-shirt. Because I went to the International School, I’d rarely found a Christian boy to have a crush on. I daydreamed about meeting a Christian boy with a Jeep Wrangler who liked DC Talk and would take me on picnics and pray before our meal. Christian boyfriend would stop at second base and maybe one day he’d wash my feet before telling me he loved me like I’d read about in True Love Waits books. This boy looked like my imagined Christian boyfriend, and I pointed him out to Rachel.

He also had a cool name. I’ll mention at this point that I’ve changed the names of anyone with whom I’m no longer close who might not want stories of what they were like in college on the internet. So I’ve changed them, but only slightly.

“Do you know what his name is?” Rachel asked me while we picked tank tops to match our denim mini skirts.

“Ok, so either his name is Amsterdam or he lived in Amsterdam and now his nickname is Amsterdam. Whatever, he’s tall.”

“That’s cool. Some of the baseball players are cute.”

We pranced across campus to the student union, ready for our first weekend at college. As we walked through the parking lots, we noticed a suspiciously low number of cars and several students loading laundry bags into the trunks of their cars. The student union was practically deserted, save for a DJ playing edited rap songs and a couple of the foreign exchange students. That was the moment we learned that Shorter was a ‘suitcase campus,’ meaning that most of the students would leave each Friday afternoon and return each Sunday evening. Rachel and I sighed for a second and talked about all the fun things we could be doing if we were back in Atlanta.

Then it hit us… home was only an hour and a half away. We were on the road by 10 PM. We drove down highway 411, through Cartersville and over Lake Allatoona for only the third time. I was about to develop a very close relationship with that country highway.

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