So, you’re new to a city… You know no-one… The job you moved for has since disappeared, and you’ve got to start from scratch…
Where do you go to meet people? How do you make new friends?
Well, how about… Facebook? (You thought i was going to say your local gay bar, didn’t you?)
For this week’s guest, Maurice Smith from Category Is… Podcast, it was Facebook where he first made connections after he moved to Philadelphia in the late 00s.
But, when it was time to meet them in real life? That’s where Bump came in to play.
We chat all about renaming the gaybourhood, learning to overcome shyness, and, I learn a new word – meetcute! Wanna know what it means? Well, you’ll have to listen to the episode to find out….
Maurice Smith 00:00
I didn’t say he was a bit jealous of that.
K Anderson 00:05
He seethed with jealousy maybe. Or is that too strong?
Maurice Smith 00:09
No, I think that’s about about right.
K Anderson 00:13
Hello, I am K Anderson and you are listening to lost spaces, the podcast that mourns the death of queer nightlife. Here is how it goes. Every episode I talk to a different person about a venue from their past the memories that they created there and the people that they used to No, sir, you are new to a city. You know, absolutely no one. The job that you moved for has since been rescinded. And you’ve basically got to start from scratch. Where do you go to meet people? And how do you make new friends? How about Facebook? You thought I was gonna say your local gay bar didn’t you? Know, not quite yet, but we will get there. For this week’s guest. Maurice Smith from the category is podcast. It was Facebook where he first made connections after he moved to Philadelphia in the late noughties. But, you know, talking online can only take you so far and eventually, you’re going to want to meet right, and that is where the local gay bar bump comes in. We chat all about renaming the gayborhood and come up with some really lacklustre alternatives. Overcoming shyness. And Maurice teaches me a new word meet cute. Have you heard of that one before? Well, if you haven’t, you are about to find out let’s get into the episode
Maurice Smith 02:24
so we call it the gayborhood here in Philadelphia, and they tried to rebrand it to something like more, you know, inclusive Yeah, but they call it Midtown village now, which is not doesn’t give you the same kind of vibe. But um, you know, the gays we still call it the gayborhood not letting go. Yeah, we hold on to, you know, for the nostalgia.
K Anderson 02:47
But it is an interesting conversation, right? Like, there’s Boys Town, like the Gay Village there all these places that are centred on gay male experiences aren’t inclusive. But how do you get a whole population of people to change the way they talk about a place? Right? I don’t know. posing a question there. I do. But also like, how do you come up with something that says like, snappy and rolls off the tongue? Gay Village? What’s yours? Gay town? Neighbourhood
Maurice Smith 03:20
Gabriel. It works because it’s a neighbourhood but it’s for the gays is the gayborhood.
K Anderson 03:26
But it shouldn’t only be for the gays.
Maurice Smith 03:29
That’s why rebranding kind of took place. But then it’s just so bland and generic now that it’s like, nobody really likes it.
K Anderson 03:39
And like so you couldn’t really call it the LGB tea or tea or PA know that nothing works. And then to me, people would be offended if you call it like queer alley or something. Yeah. So you couldn’t do that? No, non heterosexual? Hell, no. I didn’t know what you could do.
Maurice Smith 04:02
K Anderson 04:04
Maurice Smith 04:04
I guess they need a marketing team. They need a market
K Anderson 04:07
we need Yeah, I think we need to do some focus groups bring people together. Yeah. LGB T. Q Avenue. LGBT Q Avenue. That’s kind of that’s that’s
Maurice Smith 04:24
K Anderson 04:27
Okay, sorry. Anyway, so you’re telling me so everyone recommended that you go to bump when you move to Philip? Do you remember the first time you went there?
Maurice Smith 04:35
Yes, I do. I want to say it was Thursday. And it was one of the people that I just you know, hadn’t met on the Facebook and we were kind of just chatting and he was like, hey, well, let’s meet at bump and I was like, Well, what is Bob? Because I didn’t know you know, still do and I had never been so he was like oh so you know at this intersection because all So when I was new to the city, I didn’t venture out much like I went to work and I came home. And like that was the extent of my exploring the city. And so, you know, going to bump for the first time was like, oh, like, where am I? Where am
K Anderson 05:15
I? So had you not been like, Oh, I’m new to this city, I need to figure out where all the gay places are.
Maurice Smith 05:22
No, I didn’t. Because I’m also like, very risk averse. And so because it was everything was so new. And like, I was never out at night. In the beginning, I was
K Anderson 05:36
kind of scale. You don’t mean out? You mean out? Yeah,
Maurice Smith 05:39
I wasn’t just never out like I never had clubbing or like, in the beginning, because I was really, I wouldn’t say scared, but there was probably a little fear there because it was a new place. And you know, coming from the south, we have this perception that cities are dangerous, and you don’t go out after dark, you’re gonna get mugged. And my mom is actually a police officer. So you know, she kind of grayned in us that you’re in danger. Okay.
K Anderson 06:07
So do I have this right? You move to Philadelphia because you’ve outgrown your town in South Carolina, and you wanted something a bit more exciting. But then you got there. And you stay at home?
Maurice Smith 06:22
Yes. Makes no sense, right. But I was just, I wasn’t really settled and wasn’t really like, Okay, now I’m ready to go. I just wasn’t ready. I think it took me I would say until like that fall to really kind of start going out like I missed.
K Anderson 06:42
Every once you moved in the winter, and it took like nine months.
Maurice Smith 06:46
Yeah, cuz I think the first time I went to bump it was like, October. So that was like eight months? Wow. Yeah.
K Anderson 06:55
You don’t often think about how taxing it is to move to a brand new city, right? Like, it’s it’s a lot of mental capacity and emotional turmoil.
Maurice Smith 07:07
And then also just being I was broke. Because my, like I said, my job had gotten cancelled. So I like had to figure everything out. And I’m just, you know, let me get my priorities straight. And then I can worry about going out. And
K Anderson 07:25
so in this period, did you make any friends at all?
Maurice Smith 07:28
Not really. So my, um, one of my friends from college, he moved to Philadelphia, like a month or two after I did. So we actually became roommates. He was kind of like my, I guess, friend, I wanted to make new friends. But at the end of the day, like that didn’t, you know, he was still there. And we were still kind of a safety net is.
K Anderson 07:53
Okay, so sorry, I cut you off. It was your first time at this guy from Facebook had recommended it to you. And you went there to meet?
Maurice Smith 08:03
Yes. Which was an experience because I walk in. And so had these like, double doors that kind of opened up, and you can just go in, and the music is like blaring and then had these huge windows on one wall. But it was still kind of dark. For some reason. It was just like, you know, almost disorienting, because you have the loud music is dark. I don’t know anyone. And it’s like, well, where, Where’s the guy who I was supposed to meet? So I felt like I looked very awkward. You know, trying to like, and then you know, being new to the city. I felt everyone was looking at me, which made me that much more nervous. Shy? Because I’m like, yeah, oh, God, you know, everyone was staring at me. And I felt like I couldn’t go anywhere. I felt like trapped. So yeah, it was just a lot all at once, I would say.
K Anderson 08:59
And so did you have photos of this guy that you were meeting with?
Maurice Smith 09:02
Yeah, from Facebook. So I kind of knew what he looked like. But then he was late getting there. So we were supposed to meet at like, say 515 or what? I can’t remember exact time. But um, I didn’t see his message that he was running late until after I had gotten there. So I’m like, okay, like, what do I do now? Because I don’t know anyone. I’ll just go to the bar nice and wait. And so it was like, I go to the bar. Then I finally order a drink. And I’m just like, Okay, let me start drinking so I can get my liquid courage. So we finally came and then we like, chit chatted and kind of just started to get to know each other. And I still felt it was awkward because, you know, it was just a new experience for me, but I think I think I enjoyed it.
K Anderson 09:51
What did they kind of things that you share about yourself when you meet a new person?
Maurice Smith 09:57
It’s always about like, you know, you kind of have that general chitchat like Oh, where are you from? Every one in Philly is like, what do you do? That’s I think that’s like the next question. Where are you from? What do you
K Anderson 10:07
I have a real? I have a real hatred of the question. What do you do? Yeah.
Maurice Smith 10:12
I don’t know. I don’t think it really matters
K Anderson 10:16
a lot. Yeah. Yeah, I think it does matter. But it also doesn’t matter. Like, it’s not the most important thing. You that I want to know. Like, if I like you, I don’t really care what you do. I mean, I don’t want you to work for like shell or something. But if I like you, like, it’s cool, whatever you do, I’m, like, more impressed or less impressed by Ray job, then that whole culture of so what do you do? Or oh, that really gross? Yeah.
Maurice Smith 10:48
I don’t really volunteer information. I’m not, you know, the one who’s like super talkative who I think I’m getting better at than now. But I wasn’t the one who would like to volunteer and give you like, a five minute monologue or biography. Like, my life, you know, I kind of like to let the questions kind of be more conversational, not like, a list of likes, and not
K Anderson 11:13
feel like you’re Yeah, yeah. You’re just like going through the script that you go through for everyone you talk to? Do you think you’re reluctant to talk about yourself is related to your shyness? Or do you think it’s something else?
Maurice Smith 11:27
That is a good question, I think, I have always been, like, inherently shy, but then also, private at the same time, not necessarily secretive. But I like to, I don’t like to give a lot of information away, because like, a lot of times, it’s like, well, what is what are? What are you going to use this information for? And really, once I had an experience in my life, where I was outed, and so I think that’s where a lot of that also comes from, where it’s like, what are you going to do with this information?
K Anderson 12:03
So that’s what I’d say, was it a situation where you confided in someone, and then they use that against you?
Maurice Smith 12:10
Well, it was more like, I was involved with this guy. Like, towards the end of college, and like, after college, and you know, it was just like, one of those things like, it wasn’t a relationship, but it wasn’t there was
K Anderson 12:25
nudity involved. Of course, yes.
Maurice Smith 12:29
So, we were involved, like, towards the end of my college, he was like, I can’t remember he was a year younger than me, or like, two years younger than me or whatever. But we would still see each other. When I was, I would go back to like, for football games and things like that. And then, you know, we would see each other and hang out and do stuff. And then the city I moved to after college was his hometown. So like, when he would come home from college to visit his family and stuff, we would like, see each other hanging out, hook up, you know, that kind of stuff. And so anyway, long story short, is that when I like started dating someone, after, you know, because like I said, it wasn’t like a relationship. So I didn’t feel like any obligation or responsibility. So
K Anderson 13:15
I love that you’re justifying this. groundwork, I get it.
Maurice Smith 13:20
So I was started dating someone, and then that guy found out. And then since he was still, like, in college, I think he was like, a senior that year. Anyway, he told everybody, like in our friend group, we went to a large school, but the black population at that school was very small. So like, all the minorities, the black people, we all kind of knew each other. And so once he told certain people then like, everyone knew, like, I literally went to bed one night. And I woke up the next morning, and like he had told the internet, like everyone knew, like my inboxes were full. My text messages before like, this is back when AOL Instant Messenger, when that was going on. Like, I had so many like ions about it. But yeah, it was like,
K Anderson 14:13
shared. Yeah. What was the repercussions of that?
Maurice Smith 14:17
You know, I lost a lot of people who, you know, I thought were friends or people who were in my life. And it was just just one of those situations where it was very eye opening, because at the end of the day, it kind of led me know who was for me and who was not. So it was one of those life lessons.
K Anderson 14:38
Yeah, kind of one of those things that with perspective, you can see how that might have been useful for you, but it was still a very shitty way for it to happen. Yeah, definitely. So do we want to publicly shame the person? We want to call them out?
Maurice Smith 14:55
No, no, I let that go.
K Anderson 14:59
I’m not sure what But
Maurice Smith 15:04
ya know, it’s looking back on it, I’m kind of glad that it happened. Because just really, like I said, move me forward. And like a lot of ways I helped me grow in a lot of ways. And, you know, we do still have mutual friends. And they’ll mention his name sometimes. And it’s just like,
K Anderson 15:25
this happens to you when his name gets mentioned.
Maurice Smith 15:28
So I used to be filled with rage and like anger and like, kind of all that stuff would come back. But now it’s just like, I hope he’s doing well, you know?
K Anderson 15:38
That’s nice. That’s nice. He’s got no power of you
Maurice Smith 15:41
know. Yeah, exactly. Because when you hold on to it, that’s when they have the power. But when you release it, it’s much more powerful for for me.
K Anderson 15:50
Yeah, that’s delicious. But having gone through that experience, you think that that has impacted your willingness to be open about yourself?
Maurice Smith 15:59
Definitely. Even though that was in the past, and that happened in the past. That’s one of the things that it’s just someone taking personal stuff and kind of using it against at the time he kind of reinforced Okay, yeah, this is why you don’t share as much with people because look what they can do with it. But yes, it’s,
K Anderson 16:21
it’s a really interesting thing, right? Because your situation, I’m going to, I’m gonna sound really wacky when I say this, so sorry, but like your situation is someone used something against you. And now you’re punishing the rest of the world by not sharing yourself?
Maurice Smith 16:40
I guess, here. Yeah, I can see it that way. The
K Anderson 16:43
only reason I’m feel comfortable to say that to you is that I am also a person who’s not very good at sharing, and I am getting better. And I only share when it’s not invited, actually. So like on this podcast, when people are wanting to tell me their story, then I’ll be like, Okay, I’m gonna start talking about myself now. But if I’m in those situations where someone’s like, tell me about your school life, or tell me about what this was, like, I just shrug it off or like, oh, yeah, whatevs. Yeah. And I’m not very forthright with things about myself. I’m not very, like, particularly open. And unlike you, I would say that I am kind of secretive. I’ve been trying to unpick it and trying to work out why it is, and whether it’s linked to my sexuality at all in terms of you know, learning to minimise myself when I was younger, learning to be unnoticeable, because if no one notices me, that means they won’t pick up on the fact that I’m gay and then penalise me for it, or whether it’s something else, whether it’s, I don’t know, the friction within friendships, and me being oversensitive when something like your situation happened, you know, like, if I bitched about Samantha, and then Polly went and told him and I don’t know anyone called police, not just examples. And whether I like took that way too seriously, and then internalised it. And then from that day forward, never tell anyone, even though it wasn’t really that dramatic, but it is really interesting in that like, I there’s no way of talking about this without sounding really like a help book or something. But keep keep my light from other people.
Maurice Smith 18:43
I could, I could understand that. I think we do what we feel is best in order to, you know, either bisect ourselves or so. But yeah, and I think it’s all about setting boundaries as well, because, like, I’ll share things, but up to a point. Or I’ll give you a general understanding of the story, but I won’t go like super in depth. You know, it’s and so a lot of the super personal things, I’ll keep that to myself, or I’ll keep that to my good good girlfriend, who, you know, I trust with everything. Are we talking about, like really deep things? And so it’s like, with people who either don’t know their motives, or you don’t know them when I’m first getting to know someone, then I’ll be I think that much more closed off to them, then obviously, someone I’ve known for a really long time, but
K Anderson 19:37
but it is kind of counterproductive, right?
Maurice Smith 19:42
Potentially, and the
K Anderson 19:42
reason I say that is that like, you’re not letting them see who you are until they know you. But at the point that they think they know you they then realise that they don’t know you because they will then like Oh, and here’s Oh
Maurice Smith 20:01
Yeah, I can see it that way, as well. But you know, I just like to think that for me, is the best, you know?
K Anderson 20:09
Oh, yeah, sorry. You need to rethink everything yourself and change your ways. I just I find it. I ever use that word, but I find it really interesting. So anyway, so you had some martinis? You were at bomb. This guy from Facebook was running late. Please tell me he showed up. Oh, yeah,
Maurice Smith 20:28
he finally did show up. So it was by that time, I was probably three or four martinis. Because I was just so nervous that I was just like, throwing them back. So by the time they kicked in, he had gotten there. So I was probably a bit more free info at that point, because we had, you know, pretty good conversation and got to know each other. And he was kind of telling me, like different things about the city. And, you know, Philadelphia in general, and just like gay life and in Philly. And yeah, I think we became like, really? Good friends. At that point. Yeah.
K Anderson 21:10
At that point in your life.
Maurice Smith 21:15
Yeah, no, he’s
K Anderson 21:21
I get the sense. You don’t want me to ask any follow up questions, and I will respect that sense.
Maurice Smith 21:26
So bump was actually where I met my first boyfriend in Philadelphia. And it was like a proper what are they call it in the movies? The meet cute, where you have like this random story where you kind of, you know, just meet someone like in real life? Not like,
K Anderson 21:45
oh, dating meet you think should I know that? Yeah, it’s
Maurice Smith 21:49
very like rom com. term. It’s like, Sarah meets cute guy on the elevator. And you know, it’s like, just some are at the grocery store is like some random encounter that kind of starts the romance and sets up the story for the for the ROM.
K Anderson 22:06
I shouldn’t spell it me at. Yeah, don’t do that. Okay, sorry. Tell me the
Maurice Smith 22:13
story. So my friend from college who moved to Philadelphia, like a month or two after I did, you said we were roommates. And he was a bit more eager to meet a guy in Philadelphia. So he was always like, only on a first date. He was on all the app word. Can’t remember apps a thing at that point? Or how do you meet guys back? Oh, yeah. I know, he used Adam for Adam a lot, which was a thing. And so he had a date that he was meeting there like for dinner. And I was like, okay, but it was a blind date. So he didn’t want to like just go randomly. And so he said, Would you come with me? While he waited for his date to show up? I was like, Yeah, sure. So we’re standing around, there’s like this huge column, like in the middle of bump? I guess it’s structural? I’m not sure. So we’re just like, kind of standing around. Right beside this column. It was crowded, and I’m very tall. So you know, people notice me very easily. And so I remember, I was facing the door. And I saw this group of probably four guys walk in. And one guy, his eyes just lit up. And like we made when we made eye contact. And you know, I didn’t think anything of it. So I’m just like, okay, you know, and so I’m like, talking to my friend. And then I happened to turn to my left, and the guy was standing like, why? Yeah. And he’s like, introduce himself. He’s telling me his name. And, you know, blah, blah, blah. He goes, Oh, you must be new to the city. And this was probably like, no, no, this is like, December. And I was like, Yeah, you know, new and then we kind of just struck up a conversation. We exchanged numbers, and then started talking, like, on the phone, like after, like getting home from bump at night. And then we went on our first date, like, the next day. Yeah, and then we were in a relationship for like,
K Anderson 24:22
three years, so he had some nerve to come up to you guys be like, bam, I’m gonna talk to you. What was your response?
Maurice Smith 24:31
You know, I was a bit caught off guard, mainly because he like, it just appeared like, they’re like, oh, yeah, right beside me, you know, but
K Anderson 24:41
it’s kinda creepy to be. You must be new in town.
Maurice Smith 24:45
And that was his opening line. I was like, yeah. I wouldn’t say we hit it off because I was very I was kind of sceptical at first because like, I just hadn’t really met anyone in the city or met anyone. Like I out like that. And he was pretty aggressive. It was like, you’re new to the city. Like before he even, you know, like, introduced himself. And then it was just like, by the end of the conversation I was, here’s my number. And then by the time I got home he had already, like, messaged me and then. But part of me was, like, flattered at the same time because, yeah. Because you know, it’s just like, wow, so random person thought it was hot. It was like, really?
K Anderson 25:29
That’s the funny thing is when someone has that kind of confidence. It’s easy to just be like, Oh, okay, well, yeah, I’ll go along with this. And then like, you’re just on a date with them before you’ve had time to really think about it to really process it. Yeah. I’ve just been so like, yeah, so we’re gonna meet here, and we’re gonna do this and what’s gonna happen? And then you’re like, Oh, I Oh, yeah. And you don’t even recognise that there’s an option to opt out. Yeah, you just go along with it. It’s so fascinating. I wish I had that confidence sometimes, but then also like to pick up noxious. Yeah, not that I’m saying he was obnoxious. Sorry, I’m just this person I’ve ever met.
Maurice Smith 26:12
But no, it was definitely, like looking back on it. I think I would probably have been a bit more like, Wait, hold on pause. Let’s slow it down. But it was just such a new experience. That yeah, it kind of just went along with it. Because that was very, it was just very new. For me at that moment.
K Anderson 26:33
Yeah. When is so flattering, isn’t it? Yeah, I totally get that cynicism, of like, when someone’s hitting on you. The thought in your mind is like, there must be cameras filming must be a joke somehow. And so just to jump back quickly. Sure. So you went to support your friend when he was going on a blind date. And he was very much in the dating mode. And he really wanted to meet new people. And you ended up snagging a boyfriend? Was he pissed off?
Maurice Smith 27:11
Oh, for sure. Because the guy that he was actually meeting in like, ended up not working for them. I think they didn’t even go on a second date after that. And then he saw me going on these dates, and then entering in this relationship with someone I met, you know, in the same place at the same time, basically. And I will say he was a bit jealous of that.
K Anderson 27:38
seized with jealousy maybe. Is that too strong?
Maurice Smith 27:43
No, I think that’s about about right.
K Anderson 27:51
That’s shit there. It’s shit. When you’re in that mindset of like, I need to fall in love. I need to meet someone. And then other people are doing it around you.
Maurice Smith 27:59
Yeah. But I think that’s why, because I totally wasn’t in that mindset. And I think that’s why it happened a bit easier for me because he was so focused, like, I gotta go on a date. I gotta get a boyfriend. I gotta, you know. And I was just like, well, the I’m just coming along, you know, and then ended up meeting so
K Anderson 28:17
I don’t buy into this advice that people give us like, Oh, you’ll meet someone when you’re not looking at anything that’s like, Yeah, well, if I’m not looking, I’m not interested. I
Maurice Smith 28:27
think it’s more, what’s wrong with luck. You’re open to it. But if you’re not necessarily focused on it, then it can happen for you. Yeah, like, Yeah, I’m open to meeting someone. But like, if I’m like, hardcore, I have to meet them today. might not happen.
K Anderson 28:45
Yeah, yeah. And I get there’s a balance, right. And like, you don’t want to be so single minded about it, that you drain all of the fun out of it. You’re just become a robot. But it’s like, you know, I wouldn’t find a job if I didn’t submit job applications. Why would I apply a completely different logic to something else? Don’t put any effort in and suddenly you’ll get what you want. Like, I feel like that’s really counterproductive. Well, when you put it like that, so if anyone’s out there dating apps, and they’re feeling frustrated, don’t give up. But get other interests maybe? Yeah, take up knitting or something. Sound advice from them? Right. But so is that why bump was a special place for you? Because it represents that time in your life when you first moved to Philly and you were terrified, but also embracing this new brand new world? Yeah,
Maurice Smith 29:40
yeah, I think it wraps up the beginning of kind of this new era in my life, where it’s all about, like this new independence, this new kind of life I was creating for myself here in Philadelphia, and it kind of just for the nostalgia of like, the time and like The everything I was going through was just like that place where you can always go to, you know, meet up with people who are important, you know, in your life meet new people, as well. And then, you know, just, it’s all about having a good time. So I think, you know, it’s all those memories kind of wrapped up in, like one special place.
K Anderson 30:19
And so when did bump close?
Maurice Smith 30:23
Oh, good question. So it started to kind of decline, because the martinis were $4. And they went up to five. Yeah. Which, you know, you can still get like four martinis for like 20 bucks. But then they raised them to $6. Everybody was like, No way. Yeah. And so like, less and less people started going. A couple, like, other places started to open up in the city. And then it kind of just like, lost that kind of magic, as well. So then people
K Anderson 31:03
kind of just, and do you remember hearing about it close?
Maurice Smith 31:06
No, I think it was one of those things where it just like closed, was boarded up. Like, the next time I saw it, and it was just like, whoa, like, what happened to bump? And then you kind of think about oh, yeah, well, they did raise the prices. Well, yeah, I hadn’t even been in this amount of time. And it was just like, oh, well, you know, now what? Now? What are we going to do?
K Anderson 31:29
And so we’d like, did you respond emotionally at the time? Or was it more of like, oh, I guess it doesn’t exist anymore.
Maurice Smith 31:36
Yeah, it was definitely like a wall. Because even though people had stopped going, it was still like, you know, their place that you know, was special. And so like, seeing it closed down is this like, like, oh, no, because it did kind of have like those special memories. I think for like a lot of people.
K Anderson 31:54
Yeah. And so what would you say that having access to bump taught you about yourself?
Maurice Smith 32:04
It taught me that I can make it and I could thrive in like a new situation, I think because, you know, it helped me kind of become more social and like an environment that I would never, you know, had really kind of done before. And it helped me kind of, you know, grow and mature, like in some ways, as well.
K Anderson 32:24
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