When I was in high school I dreamed of living anywhere except for the place I was living – a.k.a. with my parents. Like most teenagers, there were many a night that I locked myself in my bedroom (well, for me, I shut my door really hard but not hard enough to give my parents even a whiff of disrespect and didn’t lock it because they kept keys to our bedroom doors should any of us ever mistakenly think that having a lock on the bedroom door meant any thing as nonsenical as independence) and dreamed of living some place else. Swore I would live some place else. Any place else. I would show them, they would miss me then, blah, blah, blah… It was the safe way of pondering suicide – all the guilt and regret you could ever want with not so much death.
I moved out not long after I turned 18. In my desperation I moved in with my therapist and the roomies – and quickly became the girlfriend. Yes, to my therapist. (Messy. I know.) It ended up not being the brightest move on my part – neither on the home front nor the relationship front. (Shocker. I know.) But I stayed anyway and for way too long. Looking back, I often wonder what made me stay in such a messy environment that was clearly a bad decision just so I wouldn’t have to live with my parents. Sure, it’s a normal “coming of age” thing. Sure, all teenagers want to be independent. Sure, lving with our parents is supposed to be slightly unbearable in some way at some point. But, is the drive for indpendence so, well, driving, that we are willing to put ourselves in less-than-ideal situations just to get it? I know I did, and unfortunately, I think more times than not that ends up being the case. We’re all hard wired with a natural tendency to leave our parents, and I believe that there is a time when that move becomes both inevitable and perilously ignored (you know you know at least one. Come one. The adult-child? … yeah ya do).
I have since moved to the city of brotherly love in better circumstances. I haven’t always made the best decisions while living there, and I certainly haven’t always lived in the nicest neighborhoods, on the nicest blocks, or even in places where my family would visit by their own free will, but I have lived. Even with an apartment in the ‘hood with no heat (literally. I wore a coat inside my apartment for months), smashed in car windows, crazy landlords, good (and bad) roomates, failed dinner parties, disapproving looks from everyone who ever visited, weird houses, bad neighbors, and the rest under my belt, I have no regrets. I have more experiences now than most people gain in a lifetime. I have learned to make better decisions and I continue to learn to improve my quality of life. There is a valuable lesson in everything, and if you truly view every situation through tht lens, you will find yourself in a place where there are no wasted experiences. Despite all the “bad” things that I have done, lived through, and lived in and despite all the people that disapproved, looked down their noses, and had all kinds of things to say, I still have all the amazing people I have met, the amazing places I have been and things I have seen. I still have all the amazing lessons I have learned. (and how many other people know the best ways to keep warm in a below freezing loft apartment when you can’t leave because the gunshots sound like they might be too close to go outside?)
Philadelphia has become my home. It is the place I am most comfortable. It is the place I choose to be when I have the choice. I have come to love the city in a way that is both real and profound. It’s not hard to beat a little house with your therapist her roomates, but I must say, Philly rocks. bff ❤ Philadelphia.