Philly Philly Quite Contrary?!
A funny thing happened. I had the fortunate opportunity to become the 3rd wheel. Now usually when this type of opportunity presents itself, I find any and every way to get out of being in what many see as a horrible wretched awkward position. Fortunately this experience was quite the opposite. I had the opportunity to spend some time in a city that I thought I hated and hang with her rad boyfriend for a fun-filled birthday adventure. I guess these somewhat odd circumstances created my best PHILLY experience thus far. My “love” affair with Philly began some time ago. I was a young idealized athlete totally obsessed with the question and the answer to all my adolescent dreams: Allen Iverson. I mean back in the day he was the juiciest thing in all of the NBA and I was convinced that any place he was, I needed and wanted to be. Fast forward to my semi-adult life aka college at DePaul University. As an actively engaged co-ed, I promptly signed up for a service learning trip during my spring break to Philly. Finally I would get a chance to check out this place that was the birth place of sooo much music that I loved. Visions of Motown Philly danced in my head in addition to the sweet melodies of everyone’s favorite songstress, the illustrious Jilly and of course my favorite cult lead band…THE ROOTS (giggle). This trip into Philly proved to be more than my little heart could handle. We moved through the city in our Campus Ministry Van and all my thoughts could focus on was why the city seemed to be coated in a dusty haze that seemed to coat every major building and person in the city. Ironically, I was studying environmental health and blamed my immediate distaste for the city on the overwhelming amount of industrial activities in the area and not the other clear indicators that I should have known given my fascination with the combination of place, environment and social justice. As we worked with a variety of people, I was left loving the people I met but not too thrilled about the city. Given all this baggage, I was expecting to try to accept the city on my journey as a 3rd wheel but quickly realized that this trip would be much much different. As my bus approached the city I felt happy and excited to surprise my bestie. As I stepped off the bus, I noticed the building below and it seemed as though I was standing in front of a very nicely instagrammed picture. Just like that they haze that had clouded my thoughts of Philly disappeared and my heart was opened to the city of brotherly and I hope sisterly love.
I quickly bolted into the public transportation center and giggled internally as I realized that the system still used tokens for entrance. I quickly walked to my train and as a I stepped out of the ground, was amazed at all the beautiful buildings. The weather was warm, the sky was clear (as you can tell from the picture above) and I was on my way to the puma store. As I walked down the street I noticed everyone had an extra little pep in their step. Finally I surprised my friend and we headed to our hotel. We put our baggage down and set out to identify some grub. As we left the hotel we realized or maybe I realized that this cosmic day was meant for me to see Philly through new eyes. A large science fair was being held in the streets and all I could see were tons and tons of faces in all shapes, sizes and hues enjoying science. I saw children learning about motors and chemistry and DNA. This made my little nerd heart melt. I can never pass up an opportunity to observe children of color learning and loving science. This is Philly? Oh man, Philly I LOVE YOU!!! As we slowly got pleasantly distracted by organ plush dolls, rockets made of film canisters and antacid tablets and the women’s forensic science professional association, I realized that I was ready to accept Philly. We moved toward a Belgium bar and filled our bellies with curried aioli and beer. We walked the rocky steps and passed the crew boathouses as we discussed our future plans. After a pleasant nap on the not so smooth grass we moved our way back to the hotel and found a place to get some stuff to relax. As we identified places to relax and eat for dinner, I realized that this short trip was the catalyst for future adventures in Philly. The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful. Good eats, good friends, lots of laughs, graded papers and a short trip back to NYC. All in all I realized two things:
- As a travelling womanist it’s always a good idea to have an open mind and give all places a chance over and over again. Your experience will always reap a different result.
- Being the 3rd wheel aint that bad. You just gotta find the right group to attach yourself to.
All in all I suggest you take a trip to Philly and find something special that you never realized you were missing.
P.S. – I just realized that I left out a ton of stuff I left out about our second day, like the worst Chicken Cheesesteak in the HISTORY of the WORLD. I will save those stories for another blog and time.