Center Stage

Last time we talked I was feeling a little down and out, and still feeling the pangs of life in a new place. Since then, with a lot of driving, and a lot of u-turns (which don’t happen to be quite as legal here as they are in Texas) we have found our grocery store, gas station, etc. etc. of choice. Ordinarily, getting lost while driving tends to pull out the dark side in us (we may look nice and mild-mannered, but let me tell you we have the vocabularies and temperaments of well educated sailors lost at sea) but, who could be upset when lost in a place like this?

It wasn’t until last week when we were driving back home to Chicago for a quick trip that I realized I quite prefer the craggy and off-balanced landscape of Philadelphia. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of visiting the Midwest, let me paint a picture for you. The Midwest is flat. An occasional hill will come rolling along, but for the vast majority all you can see are fields of corn, soy, and praries; and they are flat. It’s as if the ground and the sky had an enormous disagreement, and the earth, in it’s best attempt to remove itself as far away from the sky, deflated any protuberance and has laid low ever since. I often hear people complain that the Midwest is nothing but a bunch of cornfields, but that simply isn’t true. The Midwest is mostly nothing. The fields seem inconsequential and minute compared to the nothingness in between them and the sky. There is room to breathe, and to stretch and to think, because there is so much of nothing.

Now, this type of geography (or lack thereof) allows for winds to race unobscured for miles, no, ENTIRE STATES at a time, stripping the trees bare, and occasionally ripping the trees themselves out of the ground, reducing Autumn from a season to perhaps a week, two if we’re lucky. Once the trees are bare, and all warmth has migrated south for the winter, the wind drives those low temperatures so deep that you don’t just feel it in your fingers and toes, you feel it in your bones. Every single person in my family (who mind you, has lived in the Midwest their entire lives, as did generations before them) asks “Why do we live here again?” This has become rhetorical, since everyone thinks it and no one can verbalize an answer. The Spring is too wet and cold, the Summer is too hot and humid, Autumn is too short and the Winter. Oh, the Winter. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the Midwest, and will always proudly consider myself a Midwesterner. With that being said, I have grown to like (dare I say love?) Pennsylvania. It is STUNNING. While Illinois has been robbed of another Autumn, devoid of color and settling in for a harsh Winter, the trees are still on fire here.

Perhaps, no…ABSOLUTELY, the best part of living in Philadelphia (I refuse to call it Philly, it sounds… grungy) are the outside spaces. Fairmount Park is one of the country’s largest urban green spaces covering over 9,000 acres of land. With so many hiking paths and parks to visit within a short distance Ollie and Brix’s lives have exponentially gotten better (as have ours). The Wissahickon and Schuylkill (no, those are not typos) trails are constantly calling our names, and the hills make for interesting (and slightly painful) walks through our neighborhood.

Yes, I think we will do quite well here. Now that some time has passed (we’ve already been here for over 2 months!), and most of the kinks are worked out I think it’s safe to say that this was a move up. I’ll always have a special (flat) place in my heart for the Midwest, (and a humid mosquito-filled place for Houston) but it’s time for them to move over and make some room, because Philadelphia has taken center stage.


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