Favorite Spot: The skyline
Neighborhood and Address: Center City
I am: A writer, fixer, baker, and a hugger who can always find an excuse to stop for Capogiro on the way home.
Years in Philly: Eight
Current Home: Chinatown
My Love Note:
Philadelphia, you are a tough nut to crack. It took me eight years of living here to stop feeling like an outsider, and start feeling like a proper resident.
I arrived here in August of 2005, with my mother and all of my worldly possessions stuffed into a Volvo station wagon, all of us bursting at the seams – me with glee, my mother with terror, and that poor old car with more polo shirts and poster adhesive than any one person should ever own.
When I was 13, I told my mother that I was going to attend college in Australia, because that was as far away as I could physically get from home (and her). Despite her initial refusal to leave me at La Salle after seeing the jarringly un-scenic intersection of Broad and Olney, I knew that she was relieved that I had chosen a school that was a short train ride away from her. Philadelphia was never my first choice – I was supposed to only be here for a semester, then transfer to my first-choice college in Boston. I quickly found out that I was one of the few non-local students at my college. Everyone identified by parish (what?) or local Catholic school alma mater. I was instantly an outsider, which was the exact opposite of what one hopes to feel like when arriving in a new location.
For the next four years, I threw both caution and moderation out the window, and had a pretty typical college experience. I met people I liked, people I loved, people who challenged me in a positive way, and people that I wouldn’t hold the El doors for if I saw them make a run for it on a freezing cold day. I started to spend more time in University City for both work and pleasure, and subletted my first apartment at 41st and Sansom in the summer of 2008. Over those four years, I fell in love with the Philadelphia skyline.
The Philadelphia skyline always brings a smile to my face, and makes me feel at peace. Arriving here on the Northeast Regional route of Amtrak, coming off the El at 34th and Market, or the surprise panoramic view you get driving back from Havertown, I am always taken aback at how beautiful it is. To me, the skyline represents the era of my life during which I learned how to be happy, and I will always love it for that.
Somewhere along the way, I stopped being an outsider, and started being a Philadelphian. I have called at least four different neighborhoods home. I have favorite bars and brunch places – and friends to accompany me to both! When a bar that I spent the better part of an entire year in (R.I.P. Swift Half) closed, I suddenly felt really old. I started to know people, and created my own little bubble of awesome locals – none of whom grew up here. It became difficult to wander any place on a weekend without running into someone I knew. And before I knew it, I was home.
As much as I love Philadelphia, our relationship continues to challenge me. Like most relationships, we both came with baggage and neither one of us is perfect, but we are working through that in good time. I have learned that if you put in the work and give her a chance, Philadelphia will always take care of you in the end. If you find yourself lost and confused about where you should be, find a way to see our whole skyline at dusk. When you do, the sight will make you smile unconsciously,and then you’ll know.