Tuesday, October 28, 2008

This city

Sometimes it's the quaint cobblestone alleyway that reeks of dog urine that is the essence of this city to me. Sometimes it is the lights and the people of the city through the condensation on the large glass windows on the second floor of Starbucks on 19th and Chestnut. Sometimes it is the tart stench of garbage from the passing trucks and street after street of bags waiting to be collected that slow down our walk as my dog insists on inspecting them all for life threatening food. On weekends it is sometimes the Delaware river from Penn's Landing and the lights of Ben Franklin bridge. It is often my friends as I see them in things they would delight in through the many storefronts. I miss them a little then and wish they were here. During the week it is the Chinese food cart outside of work that is the best meal you'll eat for $3.80 in the city. Everyday it is the choking cigarette smoke--Philly smokes a lot. It is buses and trains, trucks, cars, and even planes. It is ninja footwork avoiding poop smeared sidewalks. It is Gabriel, the guy I've seen almost every day walking to work wearing all black and perhaps the same black every single day. I just learned his name yesterday. It's weird that of all the people I pass everyday, we end up talking and even finally exchanging names. No girls, he's not single. Once it was the specter of a homeless person crossing an empty street at 4am with a dark blanket draped over their head like a ghost. They turned to take in me and the dog and then continued on. It is watching a homeless person struggle against the whipping wind to arrange a small blanket to tuck under their body and cover their face as they sleep on top of a steam manhole in the center of the sidewalk. It is still more homeless at the bus shelters, park benches, and churches. It is all the random men who try to pick me up in the subways and streets-I do not understand why you can not make eye contact or even just say hello without having to make up a fictional boyfriend to keep things from going there. It is broken glass from beer and car windows. It is another person dining alone who didn't forget to bring something to read or write with like I did.

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