Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bike the City #7 (Planned Happystance)

   Maybe the first thing I wondered when I got there was how long would I be there.  Philadelphia was as hot and as humid as a crowd and there was no place to turn for escape.  Even though the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air had made his escape some time in the 90's but I had just arrived. 

The streets smelled like warm trash and despite its dense culture, West Philadelphia needs little introduction.  I stood on the train platform with an over stuffed backpack and my bicycle as the train clattered away.  There on the East Coast for the first time Flagstaff, Arizona seemed as if it were already a lifetime.  I was surrounded by city noise and nothing all at the same time.  Faces that filled the streets, making their daily business stared back looking disheveled and confused like they had just woken up.  I refused to admit regret.
Like stepping into a dark building on a sunny day, falling into West Philadelphia requires some time to adjust to.  The intricate community formed by the people of this corner of the city resembles a spice cabinet dumped onto the floor.  Taken in at once it is an unpalatable mess but experienced individually there are peasant wonders.  Even with the occasional person in the grocery line nursing a bloody nose, random yells of hate and unacceptable threats, swashbuckling and violence on a daily basis, most people greet friends regularly along the sidewalks.  The ones who are trying to force a sunshiny glimmer of optimism in a down ridden town shine the brightest.    

Taken From notes jotted Winter 2009

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