I wake in the morning to take my dog on a walk through the park. It’s October and the grass is glistening through the morning fog, that gentle screen of mystery. My eyes, tired eyes, observe the humans of Rittenhouse Square because that’s what I do. They march to work, walk their dogs; they hurry home in club dresses and messy hair. They sleep on the benches; I imagine them saying good-bye to the last dream of the night as life waits for them to meet again.
I go back home to get ready for work. I walk through the park and notice the sleeping humans are waking up as usual; though the suits and ties—and power heels I could never walk in—are not making the sounds of a Rittenhouse morning. It’s casual Friday. Everyone’s wearing jeans.
I meet the park again when the day is done. Everything is so alive on Friday when it’s nice outside. That man plays his trumpet like the summer wind. Skateboards roll across brick walkways. The smell of weed and nice cigars and summer air drift in waves across my nose buds. My earphones in as I walk to the beat of my personal soundtrack. I’m on my way home to chill with my thoughts before we go out tonight.
We’re at the open mic in West Philly where everyone can be human. Artists of words, of love and pain and listening. Artists of laughter. Artists of the human condition gathered in a room being beautiful.
And there are so many words to share, so many hands to hold that microphone. And when you give talented Philly kids a place to be exactly who they are, where it’s ok to be young, to wear hoodies and dirty vans and have no idea what we’re doing. To have the talent and bravery to open our arms to people we don’t know, to close our eyes and jump into a sea of beating hearts without knowing if they’ll even feel our presence there. We’ll blindly fall into the craft of poetry, of music and comedy, trusting someone in the audience to catch a glimpse of what we’re feeling.
I lay my head on my girlfriend’s shoulder, admiring the talent on stage and falling even more in love with her. I’m so moved by their courage to be vulnerable, to break down and cry through the pain that inspired them to write the words they’ve chosen to share. And I can feel it too. Everyone in the room can feel it.
I watch them forget the words and stand still trying to remember the next line. And the support in the audience, the openness. It feels so safe in this room how we all can laugh and cry and make mistakes and it’s ok because we’re only human.
I will always have a unique admiration for the Philadelphian artist. The artists of New York and L.A. have come from all over the world. They’ve dropped everything with 30 dollars in their pockets to fulfill that insatiable desire to express, to bring their dreams to life and it’s beautiful. But what I love most about the Philadelphian artist is they’ve always been here. I know their stories as my own. They’re my brothers and sisters, my middle school crushes and my best friends from kindergarten. They’re the mirrors that show me what I cannot see when I’m afraid. And the Philadelphian artist is so honest and brave and new. And while we dream of becoming the artists in New York or L.A., it is embedded in us wherever we are in the world that we will always be the artists of Philadelphia. And I will remember Fridays like this, normal days and fun nights with a crowd of kids like me. Philadelphians creating moments of youth, of angst and tears and laughter. Hunting down those wild dreams that keep us up at night.