What’s your neighborhood soul mate?

Michelle Cryder
Favorite Spot: West Philly

I Am: A copywriter, blogger, food nerd, book hoarder, and all-around geek.
Years in Philly: 7
Current Home: Cedar Park

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My Love Note

Dear West Philly,

You weren’t my first Philadelphia residence, and you probably won’t be my last, but you will always hold a special place in my heart as the first place that felt like home. When I moved here at the age of 19, I had no idea what I was doing. I rented a tiny one bedroom by Fern Rock and lasted about 3 months before the commute became too much. I broke my lease and began hopping around the city.

Eventually I landed in West Philly in the apartment that, to this day, breaks my heart to think of. It was all windows and a vaulted ceilings brutalized hardwood, and I loved it dearly. I spent my Saturdays watching LARPers at Clark Park while eating bagels from Green Street, biking to community yoga classes, and eating samosas at the Dog Bowl. My landlord was awful, but I didn’t care because I had found my neighborhood soul mate.

Then, after two years, I had to end it.

After a medical leave from work I came back to find my job wasn’t waiting for me. I was ready to transfer schools, and I had recently burned a professional bridge after deciding I wanted to pursue a different career.

So I left you. For nine months I ran away to California, and for a long time, I didn’t look back. Then one evening after several hours in several planes and being packed into a Megabus from NYC, it all came rushing back. I saw the skyline and I felt sick. Approaching 30th Street Station my heart began to pound. It was like seeing an ex lover. I felt guilty and panicked and happy and sad all at once.

Three months later I would be packing my car in San Jose and driving the 3,000 miles back home.

I’ll never live in that first feels-like-home apartment again, but I’ve made a new home on the 2nd story of a raggedy early 20th century Victorian in Cedar Park. And I know I won’t be here forever, but I’m enjoying our reunion while it lasts, and I’ll think fondly of it after.

But that goes without saying. You never forget your first love.

Love,
Michelle

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