Wednesday, October 14, 2009

On Philadelphia

I think it is fair to say that I have a complicated relationship with Philadelphia. I came here five years ago, sort of by accident, intending to stay only about a year. Ever since, the whole family has been on near continuous alert that we might be leaving.

Fair to say that this makes it a bit difficult to settle in.

Well, now we have our actual ticket to ride - the high Rockies of Colorado. Clean air, space, mountains (snow). We love that part of the world, and have family out there, so we're excited. My wife is set to move out there in November; the boys and I will join her in a few months.

But I think I had expected to be more joyful on leaving. Certainly a couple of years ago I would have been celebrating wildly. Now, I am more equivocal. We've met a lot of good people here in Philadelphia. In fact, I would say everyone we have met has been friendly. God knows Philadelphians can be gruff (and incredibly rude behind the wheel), but by and large, this city turns out to consist of genuine, friendly people who are honestly delighted that you want to live here with them. That's refreshing, and not something I have ever experienced before in all the places I have lived.

And its a city that knows how to relax in a way I like - a hearty meal and a really good beer. This is, arguably, the best beer drinking city in the country. Even cities that might have an equal claim to the beer crown concede that Philly is one of the best. Sure, all the good times add an inch or two to the collective waistline (I cop to this myself), but I think it's good for the city's soul. I am going to miss being able to walk to a bar or restaurant and be reasonably sure of having a really nice experience.

Strangest of all, I have become a Phillies fan. I grew up in Washington, so Redskins run in my veins, but the Washington Senators left town when I was just five. I never had the chance to develop an emotional attachment to them, or any major league team (and don't give me the Orioles - they belong to Baltimore, not Washington. Asking a DC fan to embrace them is like watching a bunch of Phillies fans suddenly have to worship the Yankees. Not gonna happen). Because of my 'Skins background, I will probably never be able to fully embrace the Eagles (though I am more sympathetic now than I used to be), but it's been a really rewarding experience to come to know the Phillies and watch them. I feel like I am moving away from a new friend. It makes me sad.

There is a lot I won't miss - the crime, the corruption and incompetence, the taxes, the driving, the trash on the sidewalk, all those things Philadelphians learn to live with. But I am going to look back on my five years here with some affection.

Thanks Philly. Come see me in the mountains sometime.


Jamie said...

A 'skins fan AND a Virginian?!? REALLY? WOW!! What incredibly good taste to be born Southern & pull for the Redskins. Philly's loss is Colorado's gain. :D

Elliott said...

Odd how this happens, you get that clouded vision to recall the things you like as more important than the things you don't. We've been in Tampa for two years, and now as we ready ourselves for another move, I find there are actually things I like about this area. Not many, but things.

Sean Scully said...

Yes, Elliot - I know that feeling. I find myself feeling affection for things I never expected to feel anything about at all. I am glad to be going to Colorado, but Philadelphia will have a much greater place in my heart than I ever expected. I hope Tampa has a similar place in yours (Incidentally, I sort of like Tampa, though I only know it from some business trips I took there in the late 1990s. I always had a fairly good time there, though I am hard-pressed to remember exactly why).