A Woman Visible

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Observations of the City of Brotherly Love

I have been in Philadelphia for twenty-four hours (roughly), and so far, it’s been great! I do have pictures, but I probably won’t post them until tonight after dinner. Right now I am sitting in the lobby of the Marriot watching people move in and out of the motel. It’s a curious thing really. I don’t remember seeing this many people last year in Albuquerque, but I’m sure it has everything to do with the size of the town.
One thing I have yet to adjust to is the fact that I am living, for the moment, in a tower that is one part of the huge system of man-made canyons that makes up central Philly. I never new a city could be so large. Atlanta is a big city, but not in the fashion of Philadelphia. I’m not sure I can really quantify the difference except to use the logic of a child and say that it’s just different.
This morning I made my way down here to sit at Starbucks and use their wireless connection. This Starbucks has a rather colorful person that is apparently a regular in the early morning. Her name is Rose. I have not formally met Rose, but she seems to be a fixture at this location. I’m not completely sure, but I think that Rose is a bona fide bag lady. She was wrapped in an old coat and a scarf that had seen its better days. Her lips were smeared with pink lipstick, as if she was trying to hold on to at least a little bit of civility. All around her chair were bags. We’re not just talking shopping bags, or plastic bags, but what looked like make up bags, and bags that glittered, and bags that were beautiful. For a while she snoozed as I worked on my paper that should have been posted last night, and then an old man, who must also be a regular, sat down and began to talk to her. That’s how I learned her name. I wondered what Rose had been through to come to this point in her life. They talked about the weather. She observed that last night wasn’t as cold as nights earlier in the week. I wondered where she had slept, and wondered just how cold she had been. My first reaction was to feel pity, but then she just didn’t seem to need pity. She seemed ok with her life. People seemed to see her as someone special enough to ask how she was doing and address her by name. I found that mildly comforting and nice. Now I have a better understanding of what “City of Brotherly Love” might mean. As the city came to life, and the sidewalk snow dunes began to melt, Rose picked up her bags and entered the morning.
Tonight, I’ll be back to tell you of my experience at Reading (pronounced red-ding) Market. I hope to also post some pictures. The architecture in this city is fabulous. I’ll also share how one landmark in Germantown is literally disintegrating and causing people to run in fear.

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