Last year I wrote a love letter to the city of Philadelphia for my friend Emma’s blog.
It didn’t encompass how deeply I love this city. It’s a place without airs, without pretension. It’s corrupt. It’s broken in ways that will likely never be fixed. It’s not too big, and not too small. It has problems — big, major, insidious problems. It has a subway system that relies on tokens — on tokens! — and grime and crime that would curl your hair, if it isn’t already curly. It’s my home. I love it here.
I was born two blocks from where I live right now, in an old, rickety fourth floor walk-up. There are over 80 stairs between me and the ground. This is the view. This is the backyard. It looks like somebody built a home, stopped halfway through, rethought design plans, and then continued building. It looks and feels like walking back into a different Philadelphia, where everyone sat on stoops with boomboxes and talked to neighbors and anyone passing by. I still do this.
I went to college here. I fell in love here - twice. I got caught in a hailstorm last summer and danced my way through Rittenhouse Square and then started laughing and then started crying and the rain mixed it all together. I’ve biked and Mummed and swam in fountains when I wasn’t supposed to and sat in parks when I wasn’t supposed to and went down alleys that I wasn’t supposed to.
It’s likely that I’m leaving Philadelphia this summer. I don’t know where I’m going. I’m ready to leave. I’ve made peace with it. I’m looking forward to building a community and place in a new city. I’m looking forward to new people and adventures and the 29th year of my life.
I do not know what city this will be. I know it will not be Philadelphia.