The struggle to love Philadelphia

This love note was originally published in the Philadelphia Daily News. It has been slightly edited to fit the Philly Love Notes blog.

Helen Ubinas
Favorite Spot: Art Museum steps
Neighborhood: Art Museum
Address: 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19130

I am: A columnist at the Daily News
Years in Philly: 2
Current neighborhood: Chestnut Hill


My Love Note

I wasn’t sure I was over my last relationship with that smaller city north of here when you came along.

But next thing I knew, you’re sweeping me off my feet on the Art Museum steps and taking my breath away on the Wissahickon trails. And even as I filled my rented kayak with plastic soda bottles with mystery liquid and rusty Bud Light beer cans floating along the Schuylkill, I knew I was all in on that moonlight kayak tour. Ah, the good old days.

This is still a relatively new relationship; it’s only been about two years. But the honeymoon is definitely over.

I think it happened sometime around the time my wallet was stolen on the eve of a vacation or when you lashed out because I questioned the relevancy of the Mummers Parade or mused about renaming the Italian Market to better reflect its diversity.

How do I put this? You’ve got some anger issues. We should be able to disagree without you getting all rage-y, and telling me to go back to where I came from. And we both know you don’t mean Hartford.

But hey, when emotions run high, sometimes hurtful things are said. I may not love your thin skin, but I do love your passion.

Which is why I want to strangle you when you shrug things off. I know, I know, you have to pick your battles. You’ve grown so accustomed to how things are that you sometimes forget that they often aren’t how they should be. But settling (for everything from dirty streets to dirty politicians) is a major turnoff.

And if there is one thing I think might eventually mean the end of us, it’s that. But you already know that – you’ve lost plenty of other paramours over that dreaded shrug of yours. Even those who’ve loved you longer and deeper admit that you don’t make it easy.

I call it a love/hate relationship. Emma Fried-Cassorla, creator of Philly Love Notes, calls it a push/pull. “That’s definitely a theme I see come up sometimes,” said Fried-Cassorla, who started the site to remind Philadelphians how great their city is through a series of love notes.

You do keep things interesting. But there’s a fine line between being interesting and being infuriating.

Truth time again – I’ve often thought about breaking it off. I thought about it just yesterday.

But just when I’m about to walk away, when I’ve had enough, you do something to change my mind. I catch a glimpse of your skyline in the sunset or I’m reminded of your capacity for kindness, for stepping up for your friends and neighbors and even strangers in need – even if just to help them shovel snow.

And we do have some laughs – what was with that sharp-dressed guy in front of me at the Market Street Walgreens today? Dressed in a pricey, trendy suit and paying for his batteries with change he was pulling out of an old sock. Only in Philly.

But mostly you remind me that this relationship is about more than just us. It’s about taking chances, about reinvention and transformation. About possibility.

So, I guess in a lot of ways, we’re like every couple. We’ve got our issues. But on most days, the good outweighs the bad. And right now, that’s good enough.


P.S. Don’t forget to send me flowers. Tulips are my favorite.

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Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Art Museum Leave a comment

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