Friday, 10 June 2016

on the streets of philadephia

The lovely Amy from Vermilion just finished her semester abroad at Penn State in Philadelphia. Her posts about the city made me miss my dear Philly even more than I already did, and the past months, I was reminicing more and more about the moments passed there. They're nothing more than snippets and scribbled words in old diaries in a handwriting I barely recognize as my own anymore, but they're still as clear and vivid as they were the very second I made those memories.
Stepping out of the airport terminal into a hall with a glass wall looking out on the highway and feeling such a sense of "I'm home" that I almost cried.
Me and a friend eating poptarts on a bench in Chestnut Hill, having just spent 2.95$ on giant erasors, enjoying the sun and fantasizing about opening our own bookshop/library/coffee shop somewhere on Germantown Ave. We'd definitely have a cat or two and a map on the wall where people could pin the place they're from.
Standing in Hideaway Music looking through the CDs and vinyls and soaking up the years and years of music embodied by all those plasic covers that went through so many people's hands.

Philly's lights at night as one of those yellow busses drove us back to a small church a few smalltowns over, the street lamps and windows and their reflections on Schuykill river, tears in my eyes caused by words about a god I didn't believe in spoken in the one church that makes me shiver more than any other, the aftertaste of spirituals sung between those wooden benches and stained glass windows, the black woman with the beautiful voice, the man who didn't stop playing the piano during the whole sermon, the 20-something year old almost-still-a-boy that was in charge of the churches choir with a voice range of at least eight octaves (he could sing everything from soprano to bass flawlessly).

Walking across JFK Plaza feeling so at home in a city I've never been to before, feeling so connected to every person passing, to every voice and every laughter I've heard, snapping a photo of the LOVE Sculpture I'd seen in so many Cold Case Episodes.

Stepping out of Reading Terminal Market just to hear an old man playing a guitar and his smile when he tells me "Thank you. You're gorgeous, princess." after putting a bit of money into his hat. (Thank you, dear old man, you have no idea how happy that memory still makes me feel.)
Street art next to churches on huge buildings and a woman telling us it's part of a project to keep the youth from the streets and from spraying senseless stuff on walls, Liberty Bell and Independence Hall and Washington Square, buying a way too expensive for it's condition second hand copy of Emily Dickinsons complete poems (it took me half a year but I read them all), two guys breakdancing in the middle of the street.
And above all, above every moment, every step, every conversation: the feeling of finally coming home after being away for too long. I don't know how my beloved Philadelphia did it, but the city that loves you back had me at hello, and it hasn't let go of my heart ever since, and it's been over three years now. So if you ever get the chance: go to Philly. Fall in love with it like Amy and I and probably everbody else who's ever been there did.

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