|The last time I went to Philadelphia I was 14. It was an end of the school year trip for the 8th graders at Barrington Middle School, a celebration that we'd made it through prepubescent and were headed to the big show. High School loomed ahead of us, but for the moment we were kings of the world. We took great joy in lining up for the buses on a warm spring morning while the 6th and 7th graders looked on in envy.
I remember thinking how BIG Philly was. The tall buildings, the Liberty Bell, did I mention the tall buildings? Hell, we even saw someone get arrested, how cool is that?! For a couple hundred kids from suburban Rhode Island, this was the trip of a lifetime.
Since that time I've endured a horrendous high school experience (who hasn't) a glorious four years in Boston, and am now verging on three years in New York City. I've come to one conclusion: New York has ruined me for all other cities.
MM and I headed down to Philly on Saturday afternoon for the fist time since 8th grade ready to meet up with our elementary school through present friend JH and his fiance KW before surprising our high school friend DW. DW's girlfriend was throwing a surprise party for Dave's 25th birthday.
We arrived already pissed off. We had missed our bus because the kiosks at Greyhound were broken and getting through the ticket line took us so long that we almost missed the bus AFTER the one we intended on catching.
Once we get to Philly, check into the hotel, and head over to DW's hotel we are ready for a night of debauchery. Because who travels to another city, for a friends 25th birthday, if they're not planning on doing the night up right?
The look on Dave's face when he opened the door was enough to make the night worth it. There's nothing like genuinely surprising someone.
For two hours we sat in the hotel room drinking lukewarm beers and Parrot Bay and cokes. I felt like I was back in high school prepartying before the prom. I wanted to play along, I did. And for a while, it worked. But as the clock ticked towards 10:30, I kept thinking to myself - this isn't New York, the bars don't close at 4am, they close at 2!!!
When we finally leave and take a cab ride to the bar there is a line. I'm thinking, ok, maybe this might be cool. Looks like this place is hopping.
First of all, there was a cover. Now granted it was only $3, but I don't pay covers in Manhattan, why the HELL am I paying one in Philly? Secondly, inside the bar it was a lot less crowded than the line suggested. Loud mid-nineties music blared over the speakers. However, it WAS cheap, and DW was so excited to have us there that it was all clearly worth it. Plus I did get an authentic Philly cheesesteak, and blessedly they still allow smoking in bars in PA (a fact my lungs are still yelling at me about). But all I kept thinking, all weekend was, I want to go back to New York. It may get on my nerves at times, it may run me over like a bus on a daily basis, but it's also become home. Every other city now feels like it's trying to be "cool" trying to live up to a city that can never have an equal.
Perhaps it's official. Perhaps this line of thinking only cements the fact that I have become a New Yorker. I don't think so though. Boston never feels to me like it's trying to be something it's not. It's content with it's laid back atmosphere, it's historical heritage, it's young population. Philly felt like the younger sibling desperately trying to prove itself.
Maybe I'm jaded. Maybe I only love New York the way I do because I live here. But what I know for sure? I'm damn glad to be back.
Labels: drinking, friends, misc., NYC