Philadelphia Visions: 5

In Philadelphia on October 2, 2009 at 8:26 pm

Philadelphia 029

The day of the wedding, I slipped into a makeshift suit and waited outside for the guests’ shuttle. The hotel was typical suburban lodging — no personality, but comfortable. The county was only an aggregate of strip-malls and chain-restaurants, separated by bunches of trees and vacant lots. As a city, Philadelphia is a leviathan — the suburbs bleed for hundreds of square miles, until it’s impossible to tell where Philly ends and Pennsylvania begins. It’s no wonder that Philadelphians anchor themselves in Center City, the region’s Colonial heart, the birthplace of modern democracy. Out here, nothing feels important or even noticeable; but deep within, where streets are cobbled and halls are hallowed, Philadelphia’s noble heart still beats.

The wedding party mingled. Some smoked cigarettes, others adjusted ties and hems.

Someone pointed. “Oh, my God! Look at that!”

A rainbow arched through the grisly sky. As if on cue. Cameras clicked. Fingers jabbed the air. For a moment, all the stress of an Eastern Pennsylvania wedding melted. The urban edge was dulled. Guards were let down and smiles curled lips. We watched the rainbow until it faded, and nobody jeered or sniffed or cracked a gay joke. We quietly shared the moment, delighted and awed. And in that moment, confused by all this precious good will, I wondered where I was.


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