Months ago, a new pal who happened upon my blog through a mutual friend of ours wrote me an email urging to continue with this noting that my words were like beer, “a little bitter but very refreshing.”
I’ve become fully engaged in this city that I now call home. For a long while (far too long for no action), I toyed with the idea of writing about Philadelphia as I discovered it. The fantastic thing is, even though we’re nearing a year, my love affair with this place has not turned stale. This is remarkable for me as most relationships don’t make it past the six month mark. (wuh-waah) As we move along into these milder temperatures, the amount of activities available to enjoy increases, creating more opportunities for discovery – of neighborhoods, food carts, art, gastropubs, quiet corners tucked into the folds of a dynamic and very much alive city. So there should be plenty to write about.
A few Saturdays ago, as a point of reference and a little story, any number of events could have drawn me out of the house. Not a hard task. For the book lover in me, there was a street fair along the grand parkway that creates a clear swath from the second empire City Hall to the neoclassical Art Museum. Speaking of City Hall, a nightly light show in conjunction with the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) promised to “re-interpret the architectural elements on one of Philadelphia’s most attractive and historic buildings.” An event appealing to the architecture nerdblood that flows throughout my being. For my own sense of nostalgia, I could attend the Civil War parade. Let me finish. No, I’m not sentimental for a time when brothers fought brothers and people were, you know, enslaved. If I owned a truck, it would not be adorned by a confederate flag decal. Rather, the mere mention of the Civil War elicits a near-Pavlovian ghost twinge of wool against my bare legs in the sultry heat of a Savannah spring night. Pleasant, right? I look back on my scant time as a Civil War interpreter at wonderful, historic Old Fort Jackson with a smile. So, those were just a sampling of offerings in Philly
How did I spend my day?
At work. Ha. Ooh, plot twist. Don’t fret; this is not a time for lamentation. As a part-time tour guide at [undisclosed historic site]*, I have the pleasure of spending my day roaming a near eleven acre site of architectural precedence and a beauty that a site obtains after long stretches of abandonment. As an urban ruin, it’s a highly photogenic place. I’ll provide pictures at a later point in time. Besides, storm clouds had gathered as the day progressed and by early afternoon, most events had deteriorated or washed out. Except one… Being unprepared for this meteorological turn, I purchased a poncho from the gift shop and, as a walking advertisement for the historic site, proceeded to walk to second and market, a two-mile jaunt through intermittent squalls. A helpful tip to anyone who cares to promenade through the narrow city streets during a rainstorm, mind taxis and the surely deliberate arc of their tire sprays. My destinations were a locally owned record shop, one of many in Philadelphia, and a SEPTA transit stop. In Savannah, I read about National Record Store Day, wherein record stores use special pressings, in-store shows, and sales to encourage people to come out and support their local, independent record store. Savannah is not a land of record store and vinyl album. Should a person want to purchase an album, they need cross fingers at yard sales or head to the always-slightly-dripping-with-irony shelves of the Broughton Street Urban Outfitters. Why can’t my generation experience anything without a filter of sarcasm?
I purchased The Age of Adz (pronounced odds) by Sufjan Stevens. This album contains one of the more satisfying sonic and lyrical experiences I’ve had in a few years in the song “I Walked.” You too can share in the experience; the following link provides free (and legal) streaming and downloading of this song. http://music.sufjan.com/track/i-walked. I think the line, “I deserve more, or at least I deserve the respect of a kiss goodbye” actually sheds seconds off of my life each time I hear it, but in a good way. Hey, I don’t pretend to know anything about music, but I know what I like. Anyway, the song talks about WALKING, something near and dear. I made my purchase, went underground and grabbed the first train heading into West Philly, my former stomping grounds, to retrieve a unique umbrella from a brewpub where, surprises abound, I’d left it a few nights before. I won’t go too thoroughly into details, but the umbrella is the cast offs of childhood from the younger sister of a dear friend. It is of a vibrant blue hue with the head of a bear at its base, and needless to say, child-sized. I adore it, but obviously not enough to forget it from time to time. I grabbed the train back to my new neighborhood and, amidst horizontal rain and the grumblings of thunder, I walked home. It’s worthwhile to point out that at this time I was four hours into my travels through the rain, completely sodden, and more than a little frustrated from factors outside of what is written on this page. “Now is the time to weep” I thought. No sooner had I shuddered out a sob before I realized the utter movie cliché this moment was and I began to laugh wholeheartedly. Yet another cliché, I know, but a much better one – something more cutesy-indie maybe.
This post is clunky and a little shy of actually talking about Philadelphia. Hopefully, the writing will svelte up in time. If I can practice any obedience, I’ll be sure to post more about this great city soon and with a semi-frequency. My bad, Philly, my bad.
* I’m not advised to broadcast my employment in any personal writings or on any social media profiles I might run as I may compromise the site with my sinister views of life. Or maybe I just shouldn’t speak ill of any visitors. Anyway, during tour guide training, we were promised that if we said anything referring to the site on the interwebs, the administrative staff would find out. All hail the power of Google alerts! All kidding aside, it’s a wonderful place to work and I promise those photos soon.