Making Philadelphia a Reality
I picked a move date of September 1st, which gave me 6 weeks to find a job and place to live. I used my buddy’s address to apply for jobs so I wouldn’t be screened out of the initial process although I made it clear on my resume that I’d be moving to PA in September. A large web company contacted me about an IT Systems Analyst job and I had a Skype interview the Vice President of IT. He loved my personality but needed somebody with specific Network Admin experience and insisted on grabbing coffee when I arrived. I never took him up on his offer since he was an hour away but still, it was good to know that I at least had a chance out here.
Then time quickly passed and I had no other prospects lined up so I decided to be an Uber or Lyft driver while I looked for temp work in Technical Support. I emailed my company and put in my 3 & 1/2 weeks notice and was shocked by their response: They didn’t want to lose me and asked if I wanted to work remotely and I said, hell, yes! All because I took a jump.
I needed to find housing. Well, this turned into a bad experience and I’m going to keep this as short as possible and detail it in another blog, but a con artist on Roomster.com scammed me out of $1,000. Normally, something like this would’ve set me back but I was so hellbent on making Philly happen that I kept moving forward. To my surprise and relief, my parents stepped in and helped me recover half the money I lost, which I’m utmost grateful for. The stars aligned further and I found a trustworthy roommate from Craigslist, Matt, who offered me a room on short notice (we’re still roommates today). Had all these events not transpired then I would’ve had a serious heart attack and canceled the move.
Eastbound: OKC to PHL
(My brother Zack driving)
September 1st finally arrived, “my big day.” My identical twin brother Zack decided to accompany me on my 21 hour road trip, after being nudged by our mom, and arranged to fly back to OKC. We stayed with friends in Cincinnati, OH, two friends that I introduced who ultimately married each other. They had exciting news to share upon our arrival: they were expecting their first baby! This was such a new discovery that we actually knew about it before their family did and had to keep it on the DL. Talk about crazy-perfect timing.
(Zack, Travis, Merle, & me)
After enjoying our time in Cincinnati, we headed 9 hours into Pennsylvania’s Appalachian territory. We drove through many tunnels that cut through mountains and thought it’d be fun to hold our breaths through each tunnel, and it was fun until we found ourselves in a tunnel that went on forever and almost suffocated ourselves. Later that evening, we arrived at Chris’s house where we’d spend the night. He greeted us with wife. It was strange to think that he was married and that I was back at his place so soon. Also, there weren’t any little Chris’ running around like I had imagined, just my brother and me, two grown kids running around.
The next morning was foggy when I took Zack to the airport. We said our goodbyes in the car. He headed into the stream of passengers and I was officially on my own, in a new city, the birthplace of America. I grabbed an ice coffee to help me wake up. The clouds vanished and it turned into a bright and hot day when I moved into my place, an old rowhouse, along with Matt’s help. My room was small, 10 x 10, with no central heat and air. The closet was as wide as my waist cause it was designed over a century ago to hold one or two suits, which was all a person could afford back then. After unpacking enough to feel settled in, I finally stopped and caught my breath. I grinned and realized that I did it, I made Philadelphia a reality.
My Thank-You Letter to the Girl From Philly
Two weeks passed and I still hadn’t told Fa I was here. I didn’t think she wanted to see me and here’s why: The night we met, we showed off our Instagram profiles and followed each other. Her profile was set to private, mine’s set to public, so I had to wait for her to approve me. The next day I saw that my request was denied so I requested her again. It was later denied and that’s when I got the message. I figured that after we met she 1.) believe she’d never see me again, and 2.) couldn’t form any kind of friendship based off the rocky trust I created. My actions were unintentional of course but they were my own so I was responsible for any untrustworthy feelings I may have elicited.
I finally texted Fa and told her I was here and asked if she wanted to meet up, and if not then I understood. Two days later, she responded and said she wasn’t interested in meeting up but gave me a warm welcome and wished me the best of luck. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t sting a little but I was also happy to hear from her and completely respected her decision. One of the main reasons why I moved out here was to see her again, to try to be her friend, and now I could finally lay that to rest, no more “what if’s.” This blog is partially my thank-you to her. If we hadn’t met I don’t know if any of this would’ve happened. From the bottom of my heart, I just want to say thank you: that entire first encounter meant more to me than you’ll ever realize.
(My Philly neighborhood)
Epilogue: Six Months Later
Half a year has passed since my great adventure happened. I decided it was time to sit down and finally write about this experience, and as I was writing Part I the craziest thing happened. I was at a coffee shop blogging away, I had just described Amber and her “round black frames with red earpieces” when I decided to break for a late lunch. I walked to a nearby Whole Foods to grab a slice of pizza. As I moved through the crowd I subconsciously scanned everyone’s face for those glasses but never came across them.
With no open tables on the first floor, I took to the second floor where additional seating and third-party restaurants are located. I spotted an open seat at an elongated barstool table and headed towards it when I noticed a woman wearing a pair of round black frames with red earpieces. I did a double-take — it was Amber! She was standing by herself, waiting on a to-go order from Federal Donuts. I couldn’t believe it cause I was just thinking about her. Of all the times in the world to cross paths — she could’ve left her house a minute later, I could’ve slept in, found a seat downstairs, etc. — here we were!
I placed my stuff down. My hands were trembling because 1.) I was highly caffeinated, 2.) low on blood sugar, and 3.) still reeling from my mind fuck with the universe. I steadied myself as I approached Amber, unsure what to say, then I cleared my throat and squeakily asked, “Excuse me, is your name Amber?” (I said it like “Oo-mber.”)
She smiled and soothingly said, “It’s Amber, like ‘umber’ in cucumber.” Ohhh, yeahhh. She looked at me quizzically and said, “You look familiar. Did we meet somewhere a long time ago?” Boy, it sure felt like it, I thought. Actually, it felt like it really never happened. I told her about the block party and she remembered me. She asked what I was doing here and I gave her the ultra-watered down version. When asked if I was still talking to Fa, I told her no and confessed how I pretty much ruined that, but that I didn’t blame her.
Then a plastic square-shaped buzzer went off in her hand, her to-go order was ready (I think it was Federal Donut’s famous fried chicken sandwich). She grabbed her order and asked for my number, patting her pockets, then suddenly remembered she didn’t have her phone on her. I grabbed hers instead. She bade a kind bye then left. I later texted her, saying how great it was to see her and that I wished her, Jameson, and the baby all the best.
I haven’t heard back from her and that’s okay. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t, who knows! What I do know is that I’ve chosen to be here and even though it’s not “always sunny in Philadelphia,” I can honestly say that moving here has been the most conscious and alive I’ve ever felt. That reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Lewis Carroll (author of Alice in Wonderland) and how I’ll conclude my Philly saga: “In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take.” Because of family and friends, I’m fortunate enough to say that I can’t regret any of this.