I’ve lived in the same one bedroom apartment for most of my twenties, during my undergrad and grad studies. If you’re reading this, you may have visited there on occasion. But if you have not, I’d say it’s a cross between a library and a cave. A dozen bookcases line the walls, full of books and countless trinkets: two staplers, a postcard from a high school friend who I never really got to know, a mug from France or Germany or Italy, who knows… and hundreds of other things that gathered dust and watched as I made mistakes of all kinds but mostly with cooking.
All those things are now gone. I got rid of 99% of my possessions, and moved out of the apartment. Most of what I own now fits into a carry-on suitcase. All I’m left with are the phone numbers of people I love and the chaos of ideas rumbling around in my head, waiting to spill out. Yesterday, as I walked around on this year’s first snow, I couldn’t help but miss every little thing about life in Philadelphia before I even left. Everyone is still here, within reach, but I already miss them.
I miss the people I’ve worked with in academia: long hours chasing deadlines, enthusiastically tossing around ideas like kids building a LEGO castle without the instructions. I miss the people I’ve trained judo and jiu jitsu with: blood, sweat, and tears spilled on the mat over a pijama game that somehow forced me and everyone else to confront fears, weaknesses, and the absurdly delusional ramblings of the ego. I miss the friend with whom I traveled across the country with: the Neal Cassady of my life “on the road.” I miss my mom, my dad, my brother. I miss playing music at shady bars: guitar in hand, singing songs in front of people who were too drunk to care about anything except a good Hendrix cover: “Hey Joe, where you going with that gun in your hand?” I miss the long runs on Kelly Drive. I miss the late night diners: the grey faces, the burnt coffee, and the feeling that nothing matters and everything is beautiful. I miss the long bus rides north, alone. I miss the people. I miss the conversations. I miss being younger… and stupider.
Goodbye Philly… for now. I’ll be back.
“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”
– Jack Kerouac, On the Road
The photo up top is taken by my brother. I love you bro.