This past weekend, my girlfriend Nicole and I made the somewhat daunting trek to New Jersey to visit her grandmother and a number of other familial relations (read: people I didn't know and was slightly terrified to meet). By car, that trip takes something like eight and a half hours, and believe me when I tell you that seven hours and fifty-nine minutes of that drive is spent crossing Virginia, a state not a lot of people realize is roughly the size of Europa. We booked a swanky and surprisingly not haunted by the look of it AirBnB in the Art Museum part of Philadelphia because I had never been to the City of Cheesesteaks, Brotherly Love, and Rocky, so the opportunity was just too good.
We spent two days lost in the labyrinthine passages of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, got sufficiently freaked the fuck out at the famous and not-at-all un-nightmarish Mütter Museum, a gallery and repository of all things biologically and anatomically abnormal, partook of the food truck Mecca that is Penn's Landing, rightly sneered at the Christopher Columbus Memorial, toured the delightful and occasionally ratchet South Street Area, and availed ourselves of what must have been every Uber in Pennsylvania. It was a marvelous three days, but there was one thing that I wasn't prepared for that really made the trip one of the best we've taken.
I'm originally from Myrtle Beach. Now, South Carolina is known for a lot of things: hurricanes, mosquitoes the size of Volkswagens, and a proud recipient of the auspicious "1st to Secede from the Union" award. I've encountered more than enough racism in my lifetime, though I'm certain there's more on the horizon, and while Charlotte is a fairly diverse city and generally hailed as one of the most progressive cities in North Carolina, I was not prepared for just how diverse Philadelphia was by comparison.
It was incredible! I mean, it was amazing. It was wonderful! And I know this probably makes me seem like a very sheltered individual. It's not like I didn't know that a city that size would be home to so many different kinds of people, but up until that point, I had never been on the street with what felt like the entire world, and it was sincerely moving. Millions of people from dozens of countries, religions, and sexual orientations all together, everywhere! It's what I want every place I visit and the city I call home to be like every moment of the day. And despite the rather erroneous claim currently circulating in the political landscape, THIS is what makes America great! This is the America I want to fight to get back, the America that has room for everyone who chooses to love and respect one another.
This is my first blog post, so forgive me if I rambled or even missed the mark, but I had to tell somebody. I've got to get back there. There's still so much more to see and to do, and too many fantastic people to hopefully meet and learn from. Thanks, Philadelphia, for rekindling my faith in us as one great people.