In all fairness, it started in Rochester. The rain, that is. That gosh darn, tumultuous beast of a thing that pounded down on us as we made our way to the city of brotherly love. We encountered weird, strange things along the way, at those rest stops and one alarmingly depressing McDonald’s. And the traffic that mucked up the last leg of our journey was slightly nauseating. But we made it, and boy, was it worth it.
There’s not much better in life than good friends, really. Neither place nor time manages to damage these awesome ties to the past, these emblems of what once was, and reminders of what has come to be. My friends are my lifeline, to be honest. They’re pretty great, and I’ve come to love them dearly.
Merging my study abroad gal pals and my college lady loves for a weekend getaway would have been incredible in any city. Philadelphia was impressive though. Like Boston and D.C., Philadelphia is quaint, nostalgic and holds incredible charm. Believe it or not, we spent a good chunk of time on Saturday visiting a penitentiary, and I couldn’t have enjoyed it more. Granted, it wasn’t just any penitentiary, it was Eastern State Penitentiary — the old prison built by Quakers in the 1830s, which housed Al Capone and had a narrated tour by Steve Buschemi (via headsets). Uh yeah, it was pretty cool. They had even had a dog convict, Pep. Plus, hanging with an awesome crew didn’t hurt.
We followed our day at prison with a tasty restaurant across the street, Jack’s Firehouse, a 19th century firehouse turned restaurant. Why yes, that is yet another example of Philadelphia’s adorable quaintness. The wait staff greeted us warmly (as did everyone in the amiable city) and offered us homemade corn bread and banana bread with homemade jam. And as for the dessert we didn’t order but were kindly given by the house? Amazing homemade, fresh-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip walnut cookies. What’s not to love?
We migrated to a bar around the corner from my lovely bridesmaid’s place in Fairmount, the Belgian Cafe. We basked in the hot, humid air as under an umbrella, and as afternoon turned to evening, we didn’t quite care about much aside from one another’s company. It was the kind of story-telling, joke-making, life-sharing trip one dreams of when embarking on a journey to see loved ones. You all know what I’m talking about. It was the kind of perfect experience with friends that always gets me really gushy and happy. Let’s leave it at that.
At any rate, Philadelphia was lovely. As I turned into my driveway, I felt calm, happy and pretty at peace with everything. I couldn’t really ask for anything more. I approached the steps and there he stood. My rock. He took my bags for me and gave me a big hug. “I’m glad you’re home,” he said. So was I. It was at that moment I realized I’d never been happier. Thanks to those friends who made the trip so special and the many people in my life who help me to live honestly and simply, and who have reminded me what life is really about.