Hejira

 

 

finding a quiet place

January 12. 2001

philly photos:

broken

subway next to city hall

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fountain at Rittenhouse Square

fountain at Rittenhouse Square

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sign for something I can't determine

sign for something I can't determine

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Rittenhouse Cathedral

Rittenhouse Cathedral

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the fierce looking railing on city hall

the fierce looking railing on city hall

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me at penn's landing

me at penn's landing

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a tunnel next to Ben Franklin's house

a tunnel next to Ben Franklin's house

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So yesterday I did something I'd been meaning to do for a while. I walked around Philadelphia and rode the subways. It may sound incredibly pedestrian (ha, what a pun), but it was a lot of fun. I got on the Market-Frankford elevated (elevateds are my favorites because there's a lot more to see than just a dark tunnel), and rode it end to end about three times. This particular line was just renovated, so the trains were a lot nicer than you might expect from urban public transportation - padded seats, and a pleasant female voice announcing the station we were arriving at, and when the doors were opening and closing.

It was soothing. I was tired, but I'm always tired when I ride subways. I occasionally dozed off, my head leaning against the window, somewhere in the back of my mind hearing the stations being announced, the doors opening and closing, the high pitched whine of the horn.

The Spring Garden stop is a bit of an oddity, because it's right smack in the middle of Route 95, so you have to get there by going under the highway. So imagine standing on a train platform with a four lane highway on either side of you. It's almost deafening and very windy, but it does have a very nice view of the Ben Franklin Bridge.

I got off at City Hall and wandered over to Rittenhouse Square. I'd never actually been there before, my main impetus to go was to visit the Barnes and Noble there. I know, it's so pathetic that I go there so often, but you can't beat a meal at 50% off. The cafe at this particular B&N was really nice, with huge windows on one side overlooking the square and large tables that were well suited to spread out, my books and journals around me. I sat in the warm sunlight and wrote to John for a couple hours.

I've been thinking recently that I've reached one level of happiness. I think I'm happy with my surroundings - my exterior life. I love where I live, I love going to school, I love my boyfriend, I love my family, I like my job. In that respect, I don't think it can get much better than I already have it. But I'm not happy with myself.

I don't hate myself, not the way I used to. But I'm just dissatisfied. Always this underlying dissatisfaction with who I am and what I do. I should be working harder. I should really read more. I should listen to more jazz. I should at least speak another language. I should get my shit together and get unfat. I should work on my languishing friendships, both here and in Lebanon. But where does it end? Will I ever be satisifed with myself? Should I be?

I walked sixteen blocks to Penn's Landing, stopping to walk around City Hall to take pictures. Penn's Landing, not surprisingly, was almost deserted. It was cool but not cold, and very windy. I sat there for a while, in the bright sunshine, just thinking and watching the boats float slowly down the river. It was so still and so quiet, even though I was surrounding by the chaos of Route 95 and the Ben Franklin Bridge. I think this is what I like the most about the city - the ability to find those quiet little places among all the noise.

One Year Ago:
I meet John for the first time.