In 2004 I moved to Philadelphia to escape the high taxes of New Jersey, but I cross the bridge so often to visit my beloved New Jersey that it is probably a wash. Anyway, Philadelphia was not what I expected. In fact I had no expectations, same as when I got married, I figured it would end in 6 months, (my marriage, not my stay in Philadelphia) that was my expectation. Likewise, I never thought I would still be in Philadelphia in 2011. Nevertheless, I have grown personally and I want to share the six things that make me want to stay in the City of Brotherly Love.
Number One: My neighbor Minnie. I watched her beat a guy (a supposed stalker) with a club and get arrested the first week I was living in my new home. The stalker went to the hospital and eventually to jail. Minnie, on the other hand became an instant darling of the 26th Police Precinct. Now, that’s what I call a welcome wagon event; talk about the empowered woman. I might not have ever witnessed that in South Jersey. It made crossing over worth it.
Number 2: The Soy Café on 2nd Street. My neighborhood is notorious for bad service from an indifferent wait staff. However, the girls of the Soy Café are friendly and gracious, and they allow my dogs in the store. Often, they will serve my lunch with some fresh, cut up turkey bites for the chiwas. This place has awesome food! The soy smoothies,(my favorite, the chunky monkey) wraps, and miso soups are to die for. They also have a cute vintage shop in the back that is spare but interesting and an outside patio that is peaceful and allows the doggies to stretch. After a visit, I like to rest within the natural indentations of the big log in front of the store and contemplate the meaning of life.
Number 3: Café La Maud, recently opened, owned by a Lebanese family, they have the best cup of coffee in Philadelphia. The owner has a little Jack Russell named Gee that runs loose and greets everyone by smelling their pant bottoms; he is very charming. The counter girl is friendly and fast and their French inspired food and decor is gorgeous! Last week, I snagged a seat in the front open air window and ordered a bagel with crème cheese, onion and tomato and I received a bagel with crème cheese topped with olive oil infused bruchetta. It was a taste of HEAVEN!
Number 4: Penn Treaty Park. I found this park by accident; it is the place where the Lenape Indians signed over the area along the Delaware River to William Penn. This is an eclectic park in which neighborhood families fish on one end and drug addicts smoke crack at the other end. I know this because one day I let my dogs loose in the park and they weeded out the crack heads behind a tree. There is also a social club of middle aged guys that meet there in the afternoon with their dogs. The first time they approached me, they began to ask all these questions about my dogs. Are the chiwas not worthy? I ran to my car and left; I was totally weirded out. Anyway, I love the view of the Ben Franklin Bridge from the waters edge and the circle path that I ride my bike on until I get dizzy.
Number 5: The Gourd lady. She plants several gourds in Liberty Lands, early spring; then cracks them open for the birds to feast on in early fall. Every time we cross paths she invites me to her garden and clips a huge branch of fresh Rosemary for me and says "enjoy it". And, I do Gourd lady, one day I will ask your name, but not yet. I like the happenstance of our friendship.
Number 6: Pet Chic on Liberties Walk, takes in stray dogs and cats and finds them homes. Gordon the red pit and Magnella the cat are full time celebrity pets that bring in the customers. They just added a huge red tabby that slithers between your legs when you walk in. The strays are housed in large cages and sometimes if there is overflow in the bathroom. But, the bathroom door isn’t shut, instead a curtain is hung in the doorway, and you know I head there first for a peak. The girls in the store are wonderful examples of business owners that do what they can, with the resources they have to save animals that are found on the streets of Philadelphia. This week they have an old,old Yorkie that was found roaming the neighborhood. The vet said the dog was too old to neuter. The girls are confident that they will find him a home; and in the meantime set him up in a fancy bed with toys and treats in the shop. It was hard for me to look at this very old, beat up dog. Who could be so cruel? Who would be so kind? I guess it is the Ying and Yang of life.