My 22nd birthday (July 4, 2011) spent in the City of Brotherly Love, where America declared her independence and was born.
The graffiti walls welcome mom, dad and I into North Philly on the hot and humid day of July 3, 2011. We are looking for Christine—Chris’s house on Pratt Street, but the ways the streets are set up, we get turned around a bit. I am excited; I’d be spending the next two days with Chris to celebrate my twenty-second birthday on July 4th. Lo and behold!—finally—mom finds the way to get on the one way street that is Pratt Street. The street is narrow and as mom, dad and I look for the address, we are in the center of the road and blocking traffic. Fortunately, Chris’s house is the second house on the block; mom pulls into an open space, I give her a kiss goodbye and dad walks me to the door.
I rap loudly upon the door twice. The haze and humidity smother dad and me as we wait for the door to open. As the tears of sweat drip upon my back, I am hoping Chris heard my knocks. Finally, I hear a key turning and the door opens. Chris is happy to see me, and she sees my dad standing on the sidewalk (with the hot sun down beating on him) and waves enthusiastically. She tells dad something, he laughs quickly; I run down the porch steps and give him a big hug and kiss while he tells me to have fun and stay safe. I run back up the porch stairs and am greeted by the nice, frigid cold air of Chris’s air conditioned house.
Chris and I hop onto the J and we are greeted by the female African American bus driver.
“I’m not letting anyone on unless they bring me a platter plate and a hamburger,” she says and lets out a friendly chuckle.
I smile back and reply, “I know how you feel. You should have told me sooner, I could have brought you something. Tomorrow is my birthday and we have things made.”
Taken aback by my generosity, she says, “Really? Well, happy birthday!” and I insert my $3 and the friendly bus driver graciously hands me the transfer.
I follow Chris to the back of the bus—after her ordeal with Josef earlier that week; she did not trust anyone on buses anymore . The back is noisy and I cannot hear the loud speaker announce the stops. Fortunately, Chris knows where to get off (we’re not on the bus that long either, which is also fortunate) and as soon as she sees the Margaret-Orthodox station in the Frankford section, she pulls down the yellow cord and we hop off through the back door with a bunch of other passengers.
The whole area is crowded. The 73 bus is stopped to let passengers off, but blocks traffic in the process—the cacophonies of horns become deafening fast. Although pedestrians around us are jaywalking, Chris and I wait until the light instructs us to cross (Philadelphia drivers can be crazy). Finally the whitish man instructing us to now cross lights up and in that process, a car almost forgets to stop and almost hits a guy. He does just in time, but that goes to show you how crazy and oblivious some drivers can be. Chris and I run like hell across the street.
Pictures from my 22nd birthday:
From the Constitution Center:
Check out the albums (I'll provide two links, not sure if you have to be a member of snapfish or not... so I will also have my Facebook album):