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Happen to happen

Amy Ma's picture

My first trip to Philly was two years ago. I lost in Philly in the morning one day. I walked down the streets without realizing I was lost. It was cold in the winter, and all I remember was snow. Snow by the streets, snow on the rooftops, snow in the air…and the streets are mostly narrow, and old. Buildings were in old style. Actually the city’s name “Philadelphia” sounds pretty old to me too. It sounds like a city where a lot of old politicians with beard have their debate.


Yesterday, when I stood in front of the Free Library, I looked around and got a feeling: “Oh yeah, I have been here. I am sure.” But I just cannot recognize anything, just like I know someone is speaking English, but don’t know exactly what he or she is talking about.  Philly is just way it was: it is old in a way, but by walking around I saw tall buildings, modern ones which stand in these old and narrow streets without giving me any feeling that they don’t belong to such an old style city. Then we hanged out in groups. We just walked. We passed by Sheraton where I lived two years ago, and then a Subway just jumped into my eyes and reminded me of those days when we lined up there buying lunch. It was really surprised to see these familiar things without any expect to see them.

We stopped by several shops on a street. We got into a shop and I immediately saw the cases I want for my phone. Outside the whole foods market, I saw incredibly big pumpkins, and I was super surprised and took a picture. Before the Quiet Volume, we met a Mawrter working in the library. All these just happened without any expectations.

Later, when we were heading to the Chinatown, I saw “LOVE” on a small square. I remember how I took picture there two years ago. My synapses for these memories were strengthened again and again by every familiar item I saw. It is just like hearing a song you know from the radio. Kind of unreasonable to feel excited, but I do somehow feel excited, just like when you see amazon is recommending the things you have in mind.

In the very last hour in Philly, I walked across a street when the traffic signal started to turn red. I was stuck in the middle of the street. Cars passed by me. Just that moment, nostalgia overwhelmed me and went away immediately. It was kind of weird to realize that what reminded me of Chengdu were those cars. I thought it might be some old slow men, but it turned out to be cars.

Our groups didn’t have any specific plans for this trip, but all these things that happen to happen really made the trip a good one. As Sunstein said“Serendipity is highly desirable.” Next time, there may not be this much serendipity, but I think there will be more detailed serendipity, and I really looking forward to that.