I moved to Philadelphia post-college in October 2010. I’m moving back to Chicago (my home town) tomorrow. 15 months have gone by, and my, how I’ve grown! This is the obligatory moving on post. Here is a list of things I’ve accomplished/learned in my time on the East Coast.
1. I learned how to parallel park: Once the cause of contention and frustration, parallel parking has become so easy for me, I can practically do it with my eyes closed. In from the left or right, I continue to surprise myself at how, in one fell swoop, I’m able to inch my way into a narrow space.
2. I love roast pork sandwiches: Philly is a great foodie city. I never before knew the wonders of roasted pork, au jus, sharp provolone and brocoli rabe. I will dream about this sandwich for years to come.
3. The woods can be a dangerous, but magical place: I’ve spent a lot of times hiking the beautiful woods in and around Philly. Wissahickon Creek, Brandywine Hikes, Valley Forge State Park, Jim Thorpe, anywhere in the Pocono Mountains…all old, living, breathing spots. I’ve enjoyed swimming holes, creeks, rivers, gazed at (and swam in) some beautiful waterfalls, and had a head-to-head battle with mother nature lost in the Appalachians one fateful day. I’ve also learned to pack a compass and a map.
4. Making friends with the neighbors: If you ever decide to live in city, which everyone should at some point, make it a point to be friendly with the neighbors. They’re the first people you want to ask about garbage day and the last person you want to piss off when shit goes down.
5. I became a pro at using chop sticks: Pho, how didn’t I know of your existence before I ventured to Washington Ave. in south Philly for some hangover Vietnamese? Your lovely beef and tripe soup smothered with chili flakes and Sriracha has somehow been what I’ve always needed.
6. I became a master of public transportation: Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, I was afraid to take public transportation. “What if I get off at the wrong stop?” I constantly argued with myself. But then, I took the leap and never looked back. El? Taxi? Bus? You name it, I’ll take it.
7. I learned the value of talking to strangers: I’ve had more of my fair share of solo exploring days. They were all made better by a chat with a random stranger. It’s this way I’ve learned the value of Death Metal music, been on some incredible hikes and met some wicked-cool talented people.
8. Once you go microbrewed beer, you’ll never go back: Is it possible that I’m a beer snob? Yes. In all likelihood, it’s a fact. Within two miles of me are 3 microbreweries, all of their pours on tap at the onslaught of gastropubs in Philly. Slyfox, Kenzinger, Yards, yum. Please, sir, may I have some more?
9. Collect something, anything: Although I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m wanting to shed possessions, it’s always good to have a growing collection of something. As the adage goes, “Don’t trust anyone who doesn’t have anything on their walls.” That being said, I have a decent vinyl record collection now, something I didn’t have before. Just a few of my favorite artists. That’s all.
10. The value of putting myself out there: My time in Philly taught me to take a chance. I put myself out there. I wrote for the community newspaper. I acted like I belonged. I talked with bartenders, restaurant owners, priests, the homeless, morning commuters, freaks, actors…and I’m a better person for it. I’ve become more comfortable with my travel mindset and learned that in order to get anywhere, you have to move.