Note: This love letter was inspired by my Criminal Justice class about Cities and Crime. While that doesn’t sound like a positive inspiration, it’s really insightful about what defines a city and what makes one work well and be enjoyable for its public.
To my darling ‘illy Philly, “Filthadelphia,” named ironically the “City of Brotherly Love.” We have been together for about 5 years now, and wow what a journey it has been. When I left the big and glamorous New York City after high school, I thought I was down-grading to a smaller sized, wanna-be NYC, nothing super spectacular Philadelphia. But I was wrong to judge you. I was wrong to underestimate how amazing the setting you would paint for me to have my college years in. In you, I grew from a naive and cocky teenager to a humbled adult with a more open mind to possibilities. You have truly shown me what it means to look beyond the tip of the iceberg.
Firstly, you made me appreciate my beloved New York City. NYC will always have a great place in my heart because it is my home. It is the place that I grew up, immersed in a plethora of cultures. Here I gained a certain confidence that only NYers can carry just right. However, I never truly appreciated how great NY was until I left it. For then, I became a tourist in my own home city. I shared my bustling world of intricate subway systems, glorious museums, and street foods and fairs with people from the outside world. I realized that the mentality I have: fast and furious, efficient,and intolerant of bullshit was a NYer thang. Being a New Yorker is one of the many flavors that makes up who I am, and Philly if it wasn’t for you I would have never fully realized what that meant.
But you Philly, you give me true balls. When I moved to you, I learned that NYC may be the greatest city in the world, but it is not the only place to live. There is greatness beyond the Big Apple, even if people refuse to believe it. Philly you taught me to slow down (just a tad bit), enough to not be caught up the in craziness of things constantly happening. I get to choose city events to go to, not feel forced to go because that’s what everyone else is doing. Because of this I learned to cook, clean, bake, sew, truly explore these beloved hobbies of mine to another level. I was able to find opportunities to find new hobbies, volunteer at places, like a city hospital or natural museum, that would have been impossible or too competitive to get in NY.
And for the times I did want to go out, as a broke-ass college student I had options. Watching professional NBA games can cause just $20 instead of $80 for nose bleed seats.It’s never too crowded to watch a tree lighting ceremony in between classes. The city is so small, it doesn’t take very long (or much money) to get from Penn’s Landing by the water all the way to my old apartment at the edge of West Philly. Cost of living wasn’t so bad that I didn’t have to work more than a 2 jobs at a time 😉
And the people. Oh dear God the people. The range of people is huge in NY, but in Philly it’s a whole different type of range. Though there are a many shady characters and questionable lurkers of Philly (mostly yelling at odd hours of the night for no reason as I studied in my room), I have also had to chance to engage with some amazing and brilliant people. There is also a never ending spring of future talent in this city that never ceases to amaze me as I meet younger students. Most importantly Philly, you gave me the chance to meet some of the greatest friends I could have ever had. I don’t even think I could have possibly dreamed of better friends who love me more.
Philly you gave me the inspiration to take risks. To walk in the streets with a certain walk, kind of like that gangster walk Jax does from the show “Sons of Anarchy.”
No matter how tiny I am, I refuse to look intimated in any situation. I truly grew street smart in since events like muggings, robberies, and gunshots are very real here (as evident by my own almost-mugged situation). I used to dismiss and dislike the rap and the hip hop cultures, but how can you not give it a chance when you hear it blasting in the streets, young kids dancing around in the parks and hanging out to it. The list goes on how you changed me, how you made me realize see that I was truly unaware of even my own close-mindedness.
So Philly, I guess I’m saying thank you. Thank you for everything you have provided me. Thank you for changing and impacting the way I view things in my life. I will never forget coming back from a 76ers game and seeing a tee-shirt saying “Yea, Philly stinks! It’s because we are the shit!” It’s true blue Philly fashion right there. You are the absolute shit in your own cool way Philadelphia, don’t ever let other cities bully you into thinking otherwise.
And to you specifically University City, Philadelphia where Drexel campus sits: I know that when I leave and come back one day you will be virtually unrecognizable. But I am glad I was here during such a progressive time where the campus is being reconstructed for a better campus life in the future (though man is it annoying to walk around to get to classes). Although this new sleek, shiny, modern design of glass and towering buildings will probably dominate the area after I leave, I hope you continue to inspire your students to go beyond the barriers of comfort.
I wish I never had to go elsewhere some days, Christal