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A city for smiles

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Jessica Bernal

ESEM- Play in The City





Trains were a figment of my imagination. They would only get as real as Thomas and Friends, The Polar Express and only as exciting as the Zorro movies with Antonio Banderas. And now I find myself walking back slowly step by step startled by the roaring sounds of what they call a train.

As much as I try to tell myself that the trains are real and that no, I’m not on the set for the next Back to The Future movie, my feet can’t seem to believe it. I get a little push from everyone around me making his or her way onto the monstrous silver caterpillar. The chilly wind brushes off the nerves away and I embark onto discover what Philadelphia holds.

I take each step as if I were walking in the dark yet my eyes are wide open looking at everyone and everything on the train. The young couple too busy with each other’s faces to notice we’re all staring, the woman reading her book with no attention to her surroundings, and half of the train busy on their phones texting away as if their thumbs were on a marathon. I’m trying to look for a seat but I find myself more interested in the people on the train than the actual empty seat right in front of me. I feel like a kid in the candy store for the first time and I haven’t even arrived to the city yet!

I’m glued to the window. We’ve definitely left Bryn Mawr and all I see are bridges, sky scrappers, and I feel my throat tightening up and my stomach sinking, I’m anxious and I’m ready to play in the city. I watched my every step as I walked onto the train and now I find myself sprinting to the city without any care of whom I stumble upon.

As I walk out of the train station, the cold air welcomes me to Philadelphia as what it is, bold. Waiting as the walking sign glows bright, you hear people pointing and laughing, a black car driving away with its windows down blaring Michael Jackson’s Pretty Young Thing, and the splashing of the water from the LOVE Park a few feet away. It’s a chilly day, but that didn’t seem to stop anyone from exploring Philadelphia as they ride away on the several double decker tour buses driving by. It didn’t stop everyone walking by with a smile and welcoming us as pack of firsties to Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love.

The wind kept blowing and our adventure followed through. Philadelphia is open to everyone. “[…] they live in a space that they can identify with as an authentic space and an authentic culture.” (Zukin, 1) The youth exploring for what they hope to find what the city ignites in them.  People searching for answers and yearning for knowledge as they run around pointing to historic statues and antique buildings.  Philadelphia has a little something for every soul as Zukin would say.