Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things...

I took the bus across the city yesterday in the hopes of avoiding the blustery cold cold coldness that has descended upon this city and I thought up a few of my favorite things about this city, this time of year, and perhaps, nothing in particular.
  • I love that there are lights everywhere in the city - the holiday lights, the giant menorahs, the Christmas trees and the gaudy, over-the-top Christmas decorations. Maybe it's because the city is so compact, and sometimes people want to pretend they have a front yard like in the suburbs, but the lights are dense and over the top. I love it.
  • I love that this city is so walk-able. You can reasonable walk from one end to the other end of Center City in about an hour. Each block is different, and the closer you get to the Delaware River, the older the houses are. I love the neighborhoods. No matter how many times I walk up and down the same streets, I always see something new. Especially now that everyone is decorating for Christmas. 
  • I love to stumble upon "new" things. Like, the new bars and restaurants that are always opening up or changing decor or re-doing something. I love finding a new cafe or bar, right where there was nothing for a long time. The other week, I rode my bike past a dress store that I'd seen before, but I'd never really looked at it. I called them up, went in for a visit, and walked out with my wedding dress!
  • I also love to imagine what living in that neighborhood would be like. I think this stems from when I was a kid - we used to look at new houses and I would always decide which room was mine and where I was going to keep my toys, etc. I love to look in people's houses - yes, I am bit of a voyeur! Some houses are so traditional, with huge chandeliers and high ceilings, while others are more modern, or newly furnished. I am always surprised to see actual art work on the walls of peoples' homes.
  • I love that businesses are in buildings that were not built for their business. Restaurants are in old homes, apartments are in old storefronts, stores are in old apartments. I love it. I love that some places are so tiny, it's hard to maneuver with a backpack on. I love that some restaurants are in basements, some people live over their bar or restaurant or dance studio, and some stores have an apartment in the back (with a handwritten sign on it saying "owners only". There is something about going into someone's home for their business that is so appealing.
  • I love the used book stores, the church flea markets, the block long yard sales. So many people, such a small space and so much JUNK! I love it!
  • I love that Philly really caters to small business. I can't think of one chain business that I frequent other than Trader Joe's,  South Square Market or Au Bon Pain in my building at work. Most of the places, including our dance studio, where I bought my wedding dress, where we buy our produce and most of the restaurants we go to are all locally owned with either only one or just a few establishments in the area. Of course, sometimes we hit up Qdoba or McDonalds or Starbucks, but mostly we stick to the local stuff, especially the bars and restaurants, since they tend to serve the best food and beer for a pretty reasonable price. Besides, all the chains are in the hotel areas, which are areas we try to avoid.
  • I love that we can see historic buildings and historic things on a regular basis. We can walk past Independence Hall or the Liberty Bell anytime. I took the bus past the US District Courthouse last night, and I can walk down Elfreth's Alley anytime (the oldest consistent residential neighborhood in the country). I catch the bus opposite Ben Franklin's grave and I walk past any of the established parks in the proper city of Philadelphia on lots of occasions (legend says the layout of the city of Philadelphia was established by William Penn himself, who insisted on at least 5 parks within the city limits - one of those parks became City Hall, but there are four remaining parks within Center City itself). Macy's is in the old Wannamaker building, which houses a huge organ as well as a Christmas display inside and in the windows on Market Street. I get my produce at Reading Terminal Market, or I head down to the Italian Market, with real butchers and trash can fires. City Hall hosts a "Christmas Village" outside, with a ton of vendors selling Christmas Trees, hot cocoa and traditional ornaments and lots of other stuff.
  • I know I might regret saying this, but I love the weather this time of year. Movies and society have always told me that Christmas should be cold and chilly, and I should have to bundle up a bit this time of year. It's bracing and chilly, but it's also a bit magical. The air is crisper and clearer, the lights twinkle a bit more, and the hustle and bustle of the city just makes me smile. 
  • I also love the randomness. You never know what you will encounter. With so many people, and such a small space, you are bound to run into something interesting almost every day. I went for a run yesterday, and there was one guy who stopped, blew a shrill whistle at me and then proceeded to scream some football lingo at me ("32, 15, HIKE, RUN, PUNT"). Why? I have no idea. But it did make me giggle. Or the guy who was trying to help another person parallel park by screaming such epithets as, "No, you're f-ing it up!" and "Where did you learn to drive, stupid?" and "Well, now you f-ed it up again!" and "What is WRONG with you?". Granted, it was pretty obvious that the two people (the one in the car and the one on the street) did not know each other. When Alex crashed his bike on some trolley tracks the other week, a bus driver leaned out his window and said, "Why don't you know better than to get stuck in the trolley tracks?". Or the time when I took my parents on the subway to Old City and a couple of guys gave up their seats for my Mom and me. And then proceeded to hit on me. In front of my parents. Yeah. That was weird!
So those are some of the things I love about this time of year and being here in the city. It's hard to miss family and friends and be here while I know they're across the country. So, instead, I'm choosing to focus on the positive things I get to experience. And hopefully we'll get some snow!

1 comment:

Randi said...

Houses a huge organ. That's what she said.

Word Verification: Ovisac. Is that a testicle or a Snuggie for ovaries?