Tag Archives: love

Exploring Philadelphia: Love at First Sight

My first glimpse of Philadelphia was from an airplane as I flew into the airport this past April. Flying in to spend the weekend in Jersey. I was in awe of the massive sports complexes clustered together, the skyline, the naval shipyard… It was all pretty much a blur since I was seeing it so late at night and while in a moving vehicle. An unfamiliar place with unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells.

Unfortunately that weekend didn’t include any excursions to Philly, except for returning to the airport.  Little did I know then, Philadelphia would become a destination I would explore repeatedly and seemingly on a regular basis. While Philly is entrenched in American history, I’m also irresistibly drawn to its artistic side.

My 1st day excursion into Philly was a spur of the moment trip this summer. I had three objectives: see the Liberty Bell, the LOVE sculpture and eat a Philly Cheesesteak. Seeing the Liberty Bell was something I wanted to do for historical purposes and on a lighter, playful note, because Barney and Ted made a trip to lick the Liberty Bell in “How I Met Your Mother”, which is a series I loved watching.
And the LOVE sculpture, aside from being an iconic artistic piece for the City of Brotherly Love, it’s a piece that my baby sister and I have admired for years. During our trip to NYC for my 39th birthday, one of our stops was to see and pose with the LOVE sculpture there.
Of course there does not need to be a compelling reason for eating a Philly Cheesesteak. Tasting local food is all part of the experience.
Needless to say I didn’t accomplish anything that day other than what I considered a tourist hit and run. I had completely forgotten the DNC was being held in Philadelphia. Traffic and parking were more than I wanted to contend with. My exploration would have to wait for another day, which I would plan in advance. I settled for appreciating the city once again from a moving vehicle.
When I returned to Philly, I visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art, since admission was free on Sunday (and every first Sunday of the month). I spent most of afternoon there soaking in all of the art. It was such a thrill to find pieces by my favorite artists like Picasso, Dali and Van Gogh that I’d never seen in person before. It’s such a visceral experience that permeates my soul and floods my being with an inexplicable joy when I see certain pieces of art.

I felt intoxicated from the art when I finally stumbled outdoors. The cherry on the top of my artistic experience at the museum was seeing the AMOR sculpture by Robert Indiana outside in front of the fountain. While it wasn’t his LOVE sculpture, I was still smitten.

Running the Rocky Steps at the entrance was more than a rite of passage and another thing to cross off of my bucket list. It helped reorient me back to reality considering the physical exertion involved in running what seemed like a never-ending supply of concrete steps. Midway through I started thinking that it was not nearly as fun as I thought it was going to be to run the steps. I did not feel empowered or accomplished, that is, until I completed the last step. Then, I did throw my arms up in the air. I had to.

After devouring a Balboa burger I purchased from the food truck at the top of the steps, I made my way to the Rodin Museum. Even before I stepped foot on the grounds, I was anticipating what it would be like to see the replicas of the sculptures that I had read about so many years ago and continued to appreciate over the years. “The Kiss” and the “The Thinker” were foremost on my mind. I’m in awe of how much emotion can be captured and evoked by a single work of art, much less a large body of work. The collection was breathtaking. Everything I expected and more.

Since that first trip this summer, I’ve made several trips back at least once a month. The list of sights to see and experiences continues to grow every time I’m there. I finally made it to Love Park and posed with the LOVE sculpture. Twice. Once this summer and then again during Christmas.

I’ve also tasted my first Philly cheesesteak from one of the most famous vendors, Pat’s King of Steaks.  Although it seemed like a no-brainer that a cheesesteak would come with cheese, that is not the case.  When ordering, you have to specify “wit wiz” or “wiz witout,” which threw me for a loop at first.  Wouldn’t that just make it a steak sandwich without the cheese?  So I waited in the typically long line and ordered my sandwich and fries “wiz wit, along with a birch beer.

According to locals I still need to try the cheesesteak from the rival across the street, Geno’s Steaks, so that I can make a fully informed decision about who makes the best one.  As far I’m concerned, anything “wiz wit” is going to be good!

It was also during Christmas when I had the opportunity to see the Liberty Bell, which I did not try to lick. But I did think about it. I wanted to taste freedom like Barney did. Because it would be. Wait for it. Legendary y’all!


Thanking Jersey

It’s that time of year where so many posts, tweets, articles, pictures are all about “Thankful for…” What am I thankful for? To answer such a seemingly commercialized sentiment, yet edibly relevant given that I’m spending this Thanksgiving in Jersey makes me feel like I’m about to dive into a chick-flickesque monologue. One that would end with the ever stereotypical dramatic surround sound that cues the audience to applaud.   
But this is real life and real life doesn’t really come with a soundtrack (unless of course you count wearing earbuds listening to Pandora, or as I’ve learned since living up here that the honking of horns starts to sound like a chaotic symphony while driving in daily traffic, but oddly hypnotic).

Remarkably for me this will be the first Thanksgiving (after 41 years) that I won’t be spending with my family in Texas, which feels foreign. While I have largely assimilated and settled into life up here on the East Coast (winter weather withstanding that statement, although I have started accumulating the necessary gear for the cold, like a warm coat).

The idea of not being in Texas eating my mom’s cornbread dressing, mustardy potato salad, pumpkin bread surrounded by my family makes me feel like I’m an alien displaced from my homeland. (“E.T. phone home” comes to mind.) Needless to say I’m looking forward to all of those special people, moments and recipes (and definitely some brisket) during Christmas! I’m sending a list of special requests before I even fly out, which I’m sure mom will appreciate.

I won’t even mention the annual Black Friday shopping with my sisters where we wear matching shirts and live on caffeine… It seems impossible that so many shenanigans, adventures, adrenaline rushes and laughter happen. Sober. In one night. But they do. How often can you pass out on the benches (from pulling an all-nighter) in the indoor playground at the mall and not get arrested? Or at least get a stern talking to? But I am still getting a matching shirt this year, which is a super cute “Black Friday Shopping Team” baseball T. Although mine this year should say, “My sisters went Black Friday shopping and all I got was this T-shirt.”

While I make light of it, I was incredibly touched that they’re still including me (and I will probably Facetime them while they’re out and about like Sheldon did on the “Big Bang Theory”, although I won’t be doing it for scientific purposes). It was very heartwarming to read the messages from them about how they were getting me one and having dad ship it to me.

 That being said, I’m thankful.

I’m thankful for the little things like random “I love you” text messages from my little nephew, conversations via phone or text message, special packages (of a baseball T, pics my nephews have drawn for me or an inspirational book from my sister) from my family in Texas that are big things and make me feel connected to them. Because even though I’m far away, they’re never far from my thoughts or heart.

I’m thankful for my friends in Texas who have stayed connected and supportive, especially one who listens to all of my ups and downs and has been a constant source of support and encouragement while I’ve experienced more changes than I thought possible in such a short period of time.

I’m thankful for my lil pom who always wags her tail when I come home even after long days. She is a constant source of love, comfort and at times, amusement because of her quirky little personality. 

I’m thankful for the numerous people of all ages (too many to list individually, but they’re significant nonetheless) that I’ve met up here who have welcomed and accepted me with open arms and enveloped me in warmth and kindness. My family here.

I’ve thankful for the extraordinary experiences and adventures I’ve had, sights I’ve seen and memories I’ve made through exploring this area, which was terra incognita before I moved here. The camera on my phone has been well used and my storage is bursting with beautiful and captivating images of all kinds. I love capturing these moments and sharing them!

I’m thankful for the unexpected opportunities that I’ve been blessed with. While my life up here isn’t at all what I envisioned it to be when I left Texas 6 month ago, I am still in awe at times at what I am fortunate to be a part of and do personally and professionally. There’s a quote displayed in large font on the top of the wall at the yoga studio where I practice that sums it all up: “Until you spread your wings, you have no idea how far you can fly.”

Thank you Jersey for letting this Texas girl spread my wings and fly!

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!