a montage of Oprah

Thursday August 16. 2001

this beautiful city

I was scratching in my journal at the studio today, the last day of class. I was trying to come up with a design for my tile coffeetable, but nothing was speaking to me. I had slept in that morning, and felt, for once, clearheaded and relaxed. I scanned the entry I had written late Sunday night, and saw the words "I'm supposed to see Kate on Thursday", and realized that it was in fact Thursday. I had almost forgot about her coming to Philly, since she hadn't contacted me since last week. Her flight was coming in at noon.

I went home to wait, and around 4 pm, when I had nearly given up on her, she called my cellphone (because I was on the net blocking the regular phone, duh). She was in Mt. Airy, right near me, dropping some things off at a friend's house, and after some quick directions, she arrived at my door step and I ran out and laughed and jumped around and generally acted like fools. I haven't seen her since September.

We went over to Tyler immediately and I showed her what I had been working on. I looked at the last six weeks' worth of work, and felt discouraged. I spontaneously launched into a lengthy monologue about what's been on my mind lately, mostly because I knew Kate would understand.

I've been thinking more and more about this journal lately. Just exactly what it is, who I am, and how it relates to who I am. I've probably expended way too many brain cells for something as inconsequential as this little website. The bottom line? I feel like I'm lying. I feel like I'm lying every time I sit down and type these words. Because the person portrayed in these pages is interesting, intelligent, and has a lot of talent. And I look at myself every day and I do not feel like any of those things. I doubt myself constantly. I feel stupid and ugly. These are things I felt when I was 16. You would've thought by now I would have outgrown these feelings, pushed on and stopped wallowing in this stupid shit.

But I can't. And I'm scared I never will. I can see myself as a 35 or 40 year old, still feeling these same feelings. How I am going to get anywhere as an artist if I have no confidence in myself as a person?

But I think Kate understood. She said simply, "I wouldn't be friends with you if you were stupid and boring."

We went to Starbucks and talked for a while, about the future. I caught her up on my recent present, and she told me about trekking from Erie to Philadelphia to Michigan back to Philadelphia in the last few days, interviewing for various jobs. Tonight, as I type this in the wee hours, she's driving down 95 to South Carolina to pick up the last few things from her last job. We made plans next summer to go on a cross country road trip. We realized this was something we both had wanted to do for a while, and we realized that we were a good fit, personality wise, for such an endeavor.

"I want to go to California. There's some net friends there I've always want to meet," I said, "And I want to go to New Mexico."

"There's some cheesy part of me really wants to see Las Vegas."

"Oooh, me too. Is Los Angeles higher up than Las Vegas?"

"I have no idea..."

Tentative plans. We talked logistics, like whose car we could take, where to stay, how long it would take to get to California. It's a while away, but it could be such an adventure.

We drove downtown for dinner, stopping in the Art Museum area of the city so she could show me the house she might be living in if she ends up getting a job in Philly. I hadn't ever been there except in passing, and I have to tell you, it's a gorgeous section. Old brick rowhouses, several large public parks and a gorgeous view of the Philadelphia skyline towering above us. Plus the rent is, relatively speaking, dirt cheap. In the $300s and $400s for a studio apartment. We talked about getting a place together in this neighborhood after I go to Rome. It's such a delicious idea I can barely hope.

We met another Govie named Tim, from the year before me, at the restaurant. Govies are like a secret society. You try to tell people who haven't ever been there what Governor's School is like, but it comes across as little more than a glorified summer camp at a college campus in Erie, PA. But it is so much more. For me, and I'm sure for many others, it is a pivotal moment in their lives, a time of growth and decision. An artistic utopia, a perfect community without the confines of the real world that bog down the creation of art. It is really like nothing else.

Kate put on U2 as we drove towards City Hall and home. She sighed and said, "I have to get back here. This place is beautiful." I looked out at the lights dotting the Avenue of the Arts. The sidewalks sparkled. We passed a girl riding a bike. And I realized it was. All this time I've been thinking Philadelphia is second best, that it could never compare to the character and flavor of New York City. All this time I've been wrong. This is a really great city, not just a tourist destination, but a huge, flawed, wonderful city with so many different people and places to go and things to see. Kate needed a year in South Carolina to see that, or maybe she knew it already. All I needed was a clear summer night driving through Center City to finally realize that.

One Year Ago:
"She was talking animatedly with another girl next to her. I couldn't take my eyes off her. She just looked so polished. I'm sure you know the type, never a hair out of place, make-up perfectly applied and mantained, straight teeth, hip clothing. "