“Happy We’ve Been in Philly 30 Months Today Day!” I sputter out. Derrick looks at me and says “Wow. That’s a lot”. And he’s right: it has been a long time. 30 seems like a bit of a milestone, yet it just seemed to pop out of nowhere. Maybe we stopped counting, got too busy to realize, or simply didn’t notice. Lately, I’ve been feeling unsure of where home is for me. When I mention that I’m from Canada, often the first response is “why are you here?”, which in turn, gets me to ask myself the same question. And it’s one that I don’t have a great answer for: I have no idea. It’s been weighing on me. Before I went to bed last night, I decided it was time to shift focus. Instead of sitting with what makes Philly not home, it’s time to realign to what I love about being here. I thought back to our first night, having just enough energy to move boxes inside the doorway, before heading out to the streets for dinner and stumbling upon Pizzeria Stellas. Every month since then we’ve been back to Stellas. We reflect on our past month, and dream of the upcoming one, all over a slice (or 6) of pizza. It’s time to find the home in Philly. So in honor of our 30 months, here is my Top 30 Phavourite Philly things.
30. Adopting our dog Primrose.
29. Celebrating annually at Talula’s Garden. This has become our new Golden Griddle, where we celebrate our Anniversary of Becoming Boyfriends/Official. Instead of midnight pancakes at a sketchy diner back in Toronto, Talula’s Garden is a beautiful indoor-outdoor restaurant that uses local foods to create unique and super tasty drinks, dishes, and desserts.
28. Playing Tour Guide to our Out of Town Guests. We’re taking reservations!
27. Stoop talking with our neighbours. Trust us, it’s a Philly thing.
26. Learning just how historic Philly. As an outsider, the only thing I really knew about Philly before living here was the cheesesteaks. But it’s so much more than meat, cheese and bread. The Liberty Bell, Independence Hall (where the constitution was debated, designed, documented, signed, and read), a million historic houses and museums. And not only is there the touristy stuff, but it’s just a cool old city to live in (literally, our house was built in 1739).
25. The cheesesteaks.
24. Speaking of old… EVERYTHING here is the oldest and first in America. The first planned city. The first zoo. The first animal shelter. The first erected brick house (that’s right!). The first establishment in North America devoted to the relief of the sick and suffering (I think that means hospital). First systematic study of meteorology in aid of agriculture (can you believe it!?) And the oldest steel warship still afloat. To name a few.
23. Hot Chocolate redefined: Thomas Jefferson’s Nightcap from Shane’s (America’s oldest continually running confectionary) is thick, sweet, and just so perfect. See you never Tim Hortons!
22. And right next door to Shane’s I found the swirl infused homemade Honeycomb ice cream from Franklin Fountain. So long Baskin Robbins!
21. Sticking with the sweets: Fresh baked handmade warm treats from Bieiler’s Doughnuts, located in the Reading Terminal Market. So fresh, and so many flavors. Looking for a low sugar approach? Try standing by this doughnut paradise, and simply breathe in deeply through your nose. Dunkin Donuts- never heard of them!
20. Discovering that we do have four movie theaters within a 20 minute walking radius. About 175 movies in, many of the staff recognize me, which I like.
Parking in Walking the streets of Philadelphia. Sauntering peacefully through Spruce Street Harbor Park in the morning before it’s busy and crowded. And why walk when I can run?! Jogging along the Delaware River, and across Ben Franklin Bridge (Camden NJ never looked so pretty :)) is a perfect way to start the day.
18. Stepping onto Delancey Street, between Front and 4th Street. This little segment of street captures the perfect charming feel of historic Philly, with trees arching over the cobblestone road, creating a shadowed canopy of days long ago. All of the homes are beautiful, and very much out of our price range.
17. Volunteering at the Reading Terminal Market, and Morris Animal Refuge. These two experiences gave me my first sense of community when I was struggling to find one, and a connection to a higher purpose than taking care of myself. And all of those animal faces, and the incredible foods- those help too.
16. Going back to school for Positive Psychology, and trusting that this would lead me to my calling. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done. It reaffirmed my belief in the power of a hug, gave me another meaningful community that I totally align with, and taught me so much about the impact of mindset and the choices we make. Post school, I’ve been running a Positive Psychology Book Club for over a year, and I’m now on the brink of kicking off a campaign that I believe could joyfully change the world.
15. America definitely has better Netflix than Canada.
14. Riding on the Megabus to New York City. Last year, I accomplished one of my life goals: Being able to say for one moment I had seen every show that was on Broadway. Now, despite Derrick’s dismay, I’m constantly trying to re-achieve this goal.
13. The local theatre scene. We have access to touring shows (Kimmel), Broadway-like local productions (Walnut Street), spins on classics as well as original works (Arden), pay what you wish (Azuka), and more. And the bands, groups, and speakers who come through are so much more diverse and accessible than anywhere I’ve lived. Like Hillary, Obama, Shania Twain, Chrissy Metz; they just seem to stop by. It’s made for some busy nights, and so worth it. Philly really is an arts city.
12. Speaking of Hillary, being here during the election was something special. Going to Hillary’s first rally after winning the Democratic nomination. And standing in line for 4 hours and not even getting close to getting into her last one. At both events, there was such a hopeful joy that was never captured in the news. But being there, it was impossible not to feel.
11. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. We’re 15 minutes from a major hub airport (with no traffic! Stick it Toronto!) . We’re two hours from NYC. And we keep discovering new adventures just outside of Philly: New Hope, the Catskills, Poconos, Washington DC, Six Flags NJ, Atlantic City, Punxsutawney, and Baltimore… so far!
10. Stonewall Dodgeball kicked off a sports experience, that lead to yoga, that lead to our first true local friends. Since then it’s been Survivor nights, dinners, birthdays, and more <3.
9. Pie class at Magpie. Picking up a few skills, and ending the night with an entire pie – each.
8. Having the Olive Garden back in our lives.
7. Headhouse Bookstore. It’s the most charming place to wander in and step back to a simpler time. I can smell the books. And they have the best cards I’ve ever come across.
6. Hiking through Wissahickon Park. It’s a park and river within the city, that drifts on forever.
Enjoying Experiencing the Philly sports scene, and continuing to pretend to care about the Super Bowl :). We’ve seen an NBA game, an MLB game, an NFL game and most recently an NHL game! Derrick’s favorite happened to be the very angry macho NFL game (who knew?).
4. Celebrating Canadian Holidays in grander ways than we ever did back home. Canada Day. Civic Holiday. These have been full red and white, Canadian trivia, butter tarted filled evenings. We’ve made new Canadian traditions, living in America!
3. When it snows here, and (I love you but) everyone overreacts. Offices close down the night before. The airport closed for half a day when we had a flight last February, even though the grass wasn’t covered. Seriously though, it’s charming. Keep panicking Philly.
2. Becoming “The Canadians” to our American friends. My party trick is simply saying “out and about”. I kind of like being a Canadian stereotype. I’ve never felt so Canadian, and that was an insight that I only could have learned by moving away. I think there’s a sense of hope that comes from Canada right now for many Americans, and it’s such a humbling honor to be a piece of that for them. It’s a role that I’m happy to take on. Maybe that’s my response to the “why are you living here?” question. I’m choosing to be here to uncover what truly matters to me, to learn from the differences, and to be a part of the hope. To have an adventure. One must leave home to find home, eh?
1. Our 30 Pizzas.
Song of the Day: Times Are Hard For Dreamers (from Amelie)