I own Philadelphia. I am the busker under the arches of City Hall, the homeless person on every corner. I wonder the streets in the middle of the day when most are asleep at work and in the middle of the night when most are asleep at home. Aimlessly, but why should wonder need an aim?
I am an accidental bypasser, who lived in this city longer than all of you combined – simply because I am taking in Philadelphia when it is awake. I won’t touch Pat’s or Gino’s with a 3 foot hoagie. I get my cannoli at Rim Cafe and my music at The Fire. I made Dobbs legendary and Lipkin’s lip-licking good. I can leave Philly for years and come back like nothing happened – and go right to Wawa for a Tastycake pie.
I pass by the Betsy Ross house without a second thought but always stop by the tiny pink pastry house across the street to buy a chocolate chip macaroon – because it’s the only non-dairy thing in there.
I run up the steps of the Art Museum – not for some Rocky nonsense, but because the sunrise is so beautiful over all the flags, and the trees, and the fountains, and our nation’s first – and most hopeful – capital.
My sneakers are falling apart even as they give my right pinkie a blister. My guitar is pressing on my shoulders. My wallet has a driver’s license from another state and any transportation pass you can think of except one for my city – because SEPTA. My phone is dead, but I have two perfectly awesome InstaSnaps right above my oversized nose.
And well that it should be big and curved – the better for catching wind of every little wonder that’s happening in Philly tonight and every night, to be led by the music of Philadelphia’s streets in directions as random as our potholes.
Philadelphia is and always will be my jawn, whether it makes me feel salty or offers a cup of wooder. I am neither tired nor poor – because I yearn to breathe free; because I’ve been raised a fighter from the City Tavern Revolutionaries to the Broad Street Bullies.
I don’t need to go to New York to party or North Carolina to raise a family – because Philadelphia has all of that without breaking bank. Without breaking my soul. Without breaking my dreams.
You see me on the streets all the time without noticing. You sing praises to me without knowing the first thing about me. You come and go… while I remain, unlike that fake packaged wannabe cream cheese – Philadelphia.
I am both the brother and the love – and sister and love, because love is love and I am who I say I am. I am a person of color, better yet – of colors, of hues, of texture and reflection.
I am the actual spirit of Philadelphia. I know that there really is always more to Philly.
Because I see it, feel it, create it.
Because I own this city.