I should go into depth about Philadelphia. Frankly, it took essentially everything I had to get myself out of bed this morning (Vince let me have his this weekend and he slept on the floor, so I felt like a princess). I just thought, "What if I didn't come back to Teach for America and just moved into this beautiful house where it is snowing outside?" Well for one thing it would probably be kind of frustrating for Vince, who lives in the best bro-pad ever, complete with Did-You-Get-Those-Hand-Me-Down-From-Hugh-Heffner black leather couches, appropriately crinkled posters for indie bands with cute girls in them, lots of tall stairs, a huge projector screen in the attic, and a Eurotrash roof with perfectly moldy roof furniture.
This is Vince Levy. It's from when we lived in Williamsburg together (yes we were once that hipster-trashy). Barring Ben and Jessica, Vince is my oldest friend. We used to sit up late at night in the high school newspaper office discussing things like Jack Kerouac's "On The Road" and Rilo Kiley and running a marathon (funny story: Now, more than six years after those conversations, Vince is finally running one next week). This is one of those good friendships you try to document twenty years down the line in a schmaltzy scrapbook.
The trip to Philadelphia was as perfect as it possibly could have been. If I don't brag about the highlights I'll be doing a grand disservice to the entire underlying unspoken rule about personal blogs that they must either a) be spotlights for the activities you desperately want credit for participating in or b) be muffled little internet cries for help about how shitty everything is. Well, it would be a disservice to Idea a), at least.
So: Highlights From My Trip To Philadelphia:
- We went to a party at a Secret Society. I don't think I understand how cool this was. I mean, yes, I saw the line of people who were not on the list waiting to get in, and I saw Vince stride right past them to get let into a secret entrance in the back. I saw how beautiful everyone was, and how well-stocked the bars were, and the DJ with his one headphone pressed to his face with calculatedly religious focus. But I know in my heart that spending hours at a party at a SECRET SOCIETY is the kind of dream that wannabe-coke-dealers jack off to at night.
- I got drunk and was definitely not awful. I even think I was kind of charming. Which is good because last week Joe Stadolnik told me that I should opt to never ever get drunk because it's desperately unattractive on me.
- The food of the weekend was: BIG sandwiches with lots of cheese and salt and pepper, skinny-crust east-coast pizza, more of the first two, strong black coffee and imported beer. Nothing more delicious or unhealthy.
- THE ROSENBACH. I don't even know how to talk about the Rosenbach. It is far and away the coolest place I've ever been. I expect Vince realized that I would think so and whisked us over there on Saturday afternoon for the most worthwhile hour-long tour I've ever been on. The Rosenbach is a rare book collection, library, and historical house from two lavishly rich and prolific book collectors in the 1800s. It has the manuscript from "Ulysses"; the first edition (and every subsequent edition) of "Moby Dick" as sent by Melville himself to Nathaniel Hawthorne; an exhaustive collection of Shakespeare; extravagant "Alice In Wonderland" editions; seriously, you name it, they had it. I have never had such a hard-on for books before. And that's saying something, as I briefly majored in Book Arts. Truly, I've never seen so many beautiful books and I literally stood around DROOLING for an hour. On top of that, The Rosenbach is maintained on the first floor exactly the way it was when the family lived there. Philip Rosenbach was obsessed with birds and had tons of bird stuff (sound like anyone you know?). The woman who gave us the tour told us about how the family had dozens of exotic birds flying around the house at any given time, and a huge aquarium of turtles in the attic for making soup.
- We shopped at H&M and then started to walk home through all the sight-seeing sites. In Love Park there are hundreds of skaters doing sick tricks (no other way to describe this) and the Statue of Penn looks like he has a boner. For a while, amidst a "Fuck Prop-8" rally at City Hall, we watched bird formations curl and fall against the sky. A good, time-stopping moment.
- Vince bought me tickets to go with him and his friends (read: needlessly beautiful, glamorous and interesting) to the M83 concert. I let myself get into it for a while (they are the kind of band that plays with a deep seriousness and intensity as if to say, "This Music Is God"), and then chilled with Vince at the back watching the well-dressed college kids flit around and flirt with each other. I felt a little too old for concerts. And then I felt like I wanted to stay at that concert forever. Those were conflicting emotions. I let myself weigh them both appropriately.
Vince remains one of the smartest and most valuable people in my life, and he will have to work to avoid success. I was genuinely jealous of his whirlwind, glamorous existence. But I don't know if I'd be able to pull it off; I'm too attached to being alone to have a gorgeous posse like that.
On the other hand, the norms of my life continue to be depressing. I have start having uncontrollable, quiet outbursts of crying whenever I am confronted with something I want but cannot have. Examples:
- When the flight attendant said with trembling fervor, "We're going home" on our way to Memphis.
- Re-reading chunks of Barack Obama's acceptance speech. The thing I am saddest to have lost since I moved here is my sense of belief that change is simple or easy or even probable. I mean, I always blindly assumed that it was. And now, here, I see that it's not.
- Any mention of getting a dog. Especially with a significant other or family member.