mercredi, août 12, 2009

Off the record

I doubt most denizens of the exurbs get off the R5 at 30th Street with a swing in their step. After all, they have to make that commute roughly five days a week. They probably don't find cracked sidewalks, continous construction of mammoth buildings, and Philadelphia dirt apparently endowed by someone in perpetuity enticing.

For me, a happy resident of cow country, it was an occasion of return -- and a chance to greet a new friend. In a rare alignment of the stars that bring internet acquaintances together, my journalist pal was in town for a class. I was as excited to have the chance to actually meet him as a child waiting for a birthday party.

Because most of what we talked about is confidential, I won't go into detail, except to say that he is an ex-pat, married to another journalist, and that we grew up, a few years apart, in roughly the same part of the country. But he's seen so much more of the world than I have, and will (although I still have hopes of expanding my vision). For a few hours, over wine, grits, scallops and creme caramel in a Sansom street brasserie, he brought that world to me.

Mostly we talked journalism. It occured to me, and I suspect he'd agree, that his position is much more fun than those of my friends on newspaper staffs constantly besieged by the grim atmosphere of newsrooms on this side of the pond.

Three hours passed way too quickly -- so much left unsaid. I learned a French phrase I can add to my small stock of poetry, songs, and college vocab -- les non-dits (what's not said). In our case, it was lack of time. Please come see us if you are ever in our city, he said. I'll come see you in New York when you come back, I told him.

Things come up, and plans sometimes don't materialize, but I'm hopeful. It's rare to have someone open a window.... I want to stand there for a while, sniffing the breeze like a retriever, searching the stars, trying to see if there are constellations I can view a perhaps, a little more clearly.

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