A Love Letter: Philadelphia


I think this city looks just so in black and white.

Like film noir, Philadelphia was my uncertain, trench-coat-wearing, rainy evening, saxophone-playing mystery love town. I spent sweltering Mays, Junes, Julys, and Augusts here, blustering around West Philly, clacking my heels around Center City.

Philadelphia was the city that taught me to open my windows in summer, even if there were bugs.

To walk fast, and act like you know exactly where you’re going.

To appreciate row homes and Restaurant Week and trolleys and misspelled street signs.

I couldn’t have asked for a better name to say, when people asked me where I lived. Philadelphia, I’d say, and feel so secure in my superiority. Philadelphia was a city that conferred a certain hardness, a particular grounded beauty. And because I lived there, that meant I got a piece of it, too, right? The city of Brotherly Love. The city of murals, of cheesesteaks, of the worst public transportation the Northeast has ever seen. My city?

My city, if only in one small way.

It was as north as I’d ever lived, and as central as I’d ever dared to be. Philadelphia is to me what New York has been for countless Midwestern hopefuls who dream of something bigger.

I gave Philadelphia, its condensed suburbs, and my alma mater the least they deserved, and I wish I had invested more. I try not to feel regret, and for the most part, I don’t. But every so often, I’m caught up again in the relentless mystery of Center City, and I find myself aching to return.

Philly, you stupid, terrible, wonderful, parking nightmare of a city. I miss you.