I came to Philadelphia 5 years ago as a freshman at Temple University. I remember visiting for orientation, taking a $90 Amtrak (one way), getting out at 30th Street Station, and hailing a cab, which took me on a scenic route of Philly, arriving at Temple University some $45 later. Amateur.
My time at Temple taught me a lot. I have learned a great deal about acting and theatre. And while I do not plan to pursue a life on the stage anytime soon, studying theatre has been a wholesome experience. I have learned how to be an effective speaker, with communication the foundation of theatre. In my four years of auditioning in front of professors, rehearsing with my colleagues, and performing for my peers, I have built self-confidence. I have understood the value of self-respect and self-love, as in the critical and competitive world of theatre, one has to be their own biggest motivator and fan.
I met my first boyfriend – a three year relationship that taught me more about myself than I could ever expect. And while things did not end happily ever after, it ended for a reason. I needed to be alone to realize just why things could not work out. I needed to be alone so I could see the past that I had not dealt with. I needed to be alone so I could put myself first. I’m currently reading eat, pray, love, a story that inspires me deeply. Losing an important person in my life has allowed me to find more truth in myself. “…a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life…Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave.” – eat, pray, love
Continental, my family that made up my Philadelphia home for two years. Interviewing for a server position, I had all the odds stacked against me. I bombed my first interview, unable to name 3 types of vodka or gin (did I mention the full name? Continental Restaurant and Martini Bar), and struggling to identify the ingredients of a margarita. Somehow, I got the job. Two years later, I can’t begin to explain how much my life has changed. I have learned a ton and have made friends for life. I look forward to going to work every shift because of the people there. Continental, and my family there, provided me with stability in a rough time of life. This place, and the beautiful people that work there, is what I will miss the most about Philadelphia.
After five years here, dedicated to my studies and self-exploration, the one thing I’ve learned is that I am not ready to settle down. I need to travel. I want to see every inch of the world and I won’t stop until I do. I’ve already traveled solo to London. I’ve partied in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. And here I am, about to cycle across the country. Some people may judge me for dancing through my twenties. And others wish they could travel, too. In this sense, I’m thankful for what I’ve been through in my life. A lot of my life experiences have freed me from fear or a conventional life. Cheryl Strayed says it best in her book, Wild. “…the death of my mother was the thing that made me believe the most deeply in my safety: nothing bad could happen to me, I thought. The worst thing already had.”
And with just two weeks left in this city, I find myself saying my goodbyes every day. The Art Museum, Kelly Drive, Washington Square, El Vez, Love Park, cheesesteaks, my hair stylist, friends, and family – I say a goodbye just about every day. I’m going to miss everything about this city. Philadelphia has provided me with so much opportunity to grow into my 23-year-old self. I have worked, eaten, drank, and danced my way through this city for five years. I have found a home in this city. And now it’s time to move on. Following my 4K for Cancer journey, I will be relocating to the sunny city of San Diego, California. Just because.
By the way, as I write this, I am on a $8 Megabus to Philly after visiting home in New York. And when I arrive in Philadelphia, I will not be taking a scenic cab ride home. Having saved $127 on travel since my very first trip, I think it’s safe to say I’ve graduated Philadelphia.