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day 494: let me explain

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Being a mess in Philadelphia is my most natural state. Chipped fingernail polish, aging dye job, knotted hair and mismatched clothes. In New York City and my mother’s house I would inspire cringing disappointment. But not here. Here the sidewalk greets me with glowing eyes and excited voices. Here my Dr. Seuss scarf matches the joy in my body and the color in Sweeny’s blue orange walls. Here we have records and tea and unconditionally loved children. Here I walk down the middle of the street and my car gets hit and the rules run in a slightly lighter way; kites floating in the sky anchored to the weight of the earth. We are candles in the darkness; candles on the table in the eternal home of my heart. The seat of my soul. South Philly.

I fit right in here,
running my fingers down the rippling sea of row houses.
Front windows filled with tacky figurines
guarding the living tombs behind them.
Rooms with sloppy paint and holes overflowing
with vinyl and instruments and art.

Everything is sacred here. People love you loudly in your face so you know it. Life is not pretty, and we know it. We’re not embarrassed to be alive here. We don’t waste time on appearances here. We spend our time loving. I love you so much I could cry. But I won’t, because music is waiting.

It takes the woman at the coffee shop a few minutes to recognize me. I used to sit here writing until they closed. She’d lock us all in and pour whiskey shots in espresso glasses and I’d light a cigarette. I don’t smoke anymore. I fell asleep last night in an arm chair watching Let’s Get Lost with a glass of wine and a brilliant artist and his dog sleeping in my lap too. I’m in the Italian Market and it’s cold and the street vendors are burning fires in metal trash cans outside. A man bought my coffee to pay it forward and told me not to forget. I told him I won’t. I almost did, but I never will. I promise.

Tara and I smile and share a silent disappointed knowing that we want me to stay but I’m leaving so Steve tops me off for free. It’s a harsh awakening when I get home; I sleep on the couch and get a headache and notice I can do the next right thing a little better than before. I’m sad and I sigh and I kneel to kiss the ground and pray and say thank you again.

Om Gum Shrim Maha Lakshmiyei Swaha

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