So receive me brother with your faithless kiss
or will we leave each other alone like this
On the streets of Philadelphia
Springsteen, Streets of Philadelphia
Time was running out. Our four weeks were drawing to a close and my weekend flight was looming. That’s basically three ways to say exactly the same thing, but none convey the sense of pit of the stomach dread we were both feeling.
Combining the three visits, we’d now shared a home for close to three months and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt this was how we wanted the rest of our lives to be. All of which made the impending separation that much more traumatic.
We decided to have one more day out, doing something a bit special with the kids. We hadn’t been in to Philly with them since that first summer, so we decided it would be fun to take them down to South Street.
We set off, but for Jersey girl and I, the drive was a little bit too close to the bone, we were thinking about how the very next day we’d be doing it again for the last time.
We tried to put those thoughts out of our heads and just enjoy the day, but it wasn’t easy. Still, the kids were being their usual selves and so the constant fart and poop songs soon had us all laughing.
By the time we got to South Street and found a park, we were in pretty good spirits. Jersey girl was the only one among us who’d been there before, so the kids and I were all pretty curious and excited. I’d heard a lot about the place and figured it was the Philly equivalent of Melbourne’s Brunswick Street. That proved to be fairly accurate; artsy, bohemian and full of restaurants would be a fair description.
We’d parked a little further outside the popular part than we’d intended and so walked through some of the poorer bits along the way. It wasn’t really a problem, though. The kids didn’t even seem to notice and I was glad to get this extra perspective.
We soon hit the precinct we’d been shooting for and I have to say, I was really impressed. You hear a lot about what a ‘tough’ town Philadelphia is – and don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty rough in some parts – but you don’t hear quite as much about the artsier side of things.
What strikes you first about South Street is the colour, it’s everywhere. We arrived on a somewhat dull and overcast morning, but South Street has its own way of brightening your day. Almost everywhere you look there are murals. The buildings are absolutely festooned with images. And many of the places that don’t bear these storied or decorative graphics are nevertheless painted in such vibrant and vivid colours that they seem no less flashy than their tattooed neighbours.
I could feel myself falling for the place pretty much at first sight. I’m a bit of a fossicker, give me an interesting enough little corner to rummage around in and I’m gone for hours. South Street was full of such potential. I think I could have spent days there. Sadly, that was not an option and so I contented myself with taking pictures and enjoying the unique atmosphere of the street.
In-between all the restaurants there are a bewildering variety of shops covering music, fashion, books, art, comics, the esoteric, and pretty much anything else one might need or desire. It’s a really distracting place to spend some time. And distraction was certainly what we were looking for; anything to help us forget, if only for a moment, about the next day’s parting.
We rounded off our explorations with a traditional Italian pizza at a very friendly old school restaurant; perfect. The kids really seemed to enjoy it and on the way back to the car we stopped in at the comic store and I bought them some parting gifts (It’s amazing what they sell in those places these days).
I couldn’t help feeling a little blue as we climbed back in the car. The sense that there’s just never enough time was weighing on me. Soon I would be thousands of kilometers away from all this and just jumping in the car to head down to South Street, or Clinton, or New Hope would cease to be an option; at least for the foreseeable future.
Much more importantly, Jersey girl would soon be beyond the circle of my arms. There were now only hours left where I would be able to reach out and cup the curve of her cheek with my hand. That thought alone threatened to tear my heart. I know this was just as true for her.
The kids were tired on the drive home and we’re soon either asleep or lost in their electronic devices.
We two were quiet also, but for completely different reasons.
all images used in this post are my own.