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mmanzone's picture

Exploring the city with my little group was awesome and frequently hilarious.  We were in a part of the city I had been to but never really had the chance just to see what there is (growing up in a suburb you go to Philadelphia for a day at the Franklin Institute, not for people-watching outside of a pizzeria).  Walking around the Parkway and Logan Circle with Thea, Agatha, and Phoenix, I realized a lot of the city’s quirks I had never really thought about before.  

Our first stop in Philadelphia was the Rodin sculpture garden where we saw quite a few beautiful pieces of art.  The most striking thing for me, however, was how at home I felt.  Walking around the garden, looking at the sculptures but focusing more on the plants, I remembered going to Longwood Gardens back in my hometown.  I had never really thought I would find something in Philadelphia that reminded me so much of my little town but for the twenty minutes we were in the garden, I was back at home wandering around Longwood.

One could say that we had such a wonderful adventure because of serendipity.  We were not really looking for anything in particular to do when Agatha saw a sign that just said “Glow” from across Logan Circle and requested that we made whatever “Glow” was our destination.  We walked across the circle to find what the sign was for and found the Academy of Natural Sciences which I had never been to in all my trips to Philadelphia.

We went through a bit of the dinosaur exhibit and marveled at the sizes of the skeletons and questioned how dinosaurs actually communicated.  We looked around at the dioramas of different wildlife found in Pennsylvania.  This was not something that particularly excited me; I grew up right next to a land conservation and have attended my fair share of “these are the animals native to this area. Isn’t that cool!?” speeches.  But I realized that for some members of our group, Agatha in particular, this was a cool thing.  She even proclaimed her love for North America as a whole.  I think I take growing up where I did for granted; I can lay claim both to Philadelphia and my town so, for me, the animals and tourist-y places are old news.  But for someone not from here, they are new and exciting.

When we finally made our way to the Glow exhibit we found a dark room with backlit panels with pictures and text.  Agatha and I found two tanks of scorpions that glowed under black light and, as we were the only ones in the exhibit at the time, began talking to the woman working there.  We told her all about Play in the City and how our assignment was to explore and do something fun.  She immediately informed us that there were costumes in the back of the exhibit.  Clearly we could not pass up such an awesome chance to have fun in a science museum so we went straight to the back and began taking pictures.  Although all of the pictures are hilarious, my favorite is when Agatha and I, as humans, are trapped in a jar by Phoenix and Thea, who are fireflies.

As we were still the only four in the exhibit, the man working there came over and we once again explained our completely wide open assignment.  His first reaction? “There are animals you can play with up on the top floor.”  We could not pass that up either and went straight up to the top floor and looked at turtles, bees, insects and got to pet a milk snake.

Both of the employees in the exhibit recognized the importance of play, even for college freshmen.  They did not tell us to be quiet we we started laughing at the ridiculousness of our costumes or when we were excited to see scorpions glowing blue.  They embraced it and gave us suggestions of more things we could do to “play” in the museum.  Although some of the exhibits were clearly aimed toward children we were able to enjoy them as well.  The employees realized that, just because something is fun for children does not mean it cannot be fun for adults too.

Though we spent most of our time in museums and doing tourist-y things, I felt more and more like Philadelphia is my city.  No, I do not know absolutely everything about the city, but I have a general idea of where things are and what there is to do and do not feel the constant need to ask for directions.  I feel safe in Philadelphia.  Safe in knowing that I am not alone in knowing and not knowing the city at the same time.  Safe in losing myself in the city.  Safe in calling Philly my city.