Thursday, May 27, 2010

Summer is the Season

Tourist season has just barely begun here in Philadelphia, the “City of Brotherly Love,” but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the hordes of people jamming the sidewalks. With cameras glued to their faces (and earbuds blocking any outside noises), the gawkers are oblivious to those of us who live here. We edge around the posed photo-ops, trying to avoid being part of anyone’s ‘what I did on my summer vacation.’ We cross streets to avoid being sucked into the massive amoeba-like student groups. We plan our route so that we pass the minimal number of historic sites possible on the way to and from our destinations.

It never occurred to me, when we chose to live in this part of town, that the historic district also meant the tourist district. I just liked it because it’s vibrant with lots of shops and restaurants and many old warehouses renovated into condos. It’s within walking distant of the Reading Terminal Market and a couple of decent grocery stores. The subway is convenient to get to more far-flung parts of town. From my front door, I can walk in four directions and find interesting things to see in safe neighborhoods. Now, though, as summer begins, I’m beginning to rethink my decision.

Once upon a very long time ago, I visited Philadelphia with my parents. I saw Independence Hall and felt the crack in the Liberty Bell. I had lox and bagels at the Famous Fourth Street Delicatessen. I liked the city then, though it was much grittier than it is now. That vibe I mentioned earlier? I could feel it, then, too, even as a teenager. Maybe that’s what drew me back here all these years later. Maybe Philadelphia has been calling to me all along. It’s my place; I just didn’t know it until now. But the tourists are going to drive me crazy!

So, what am I going to do about it? I’m not going to beat them, that’s for sure. Trust me, there are waaay too many of them to battle. Instead, I’ve decided I’m going to join them. I’m going to take back a piece of my new city for me. I will gawk and stare and appreciate all the historic landmarks alongside the most dedicated tourist. Betsy Ross and Benjamin Franklin, look out: here I come.

Hey, what are you doing this summer?

1 comment:

Estella said...

I'm staying home to enjoy all my hard work in my garden...if it ever stops raining my flowers will be beautiful.