Running Home :0
by shan fahey
Philly has been feeling like a fucked up family reunion.
No matter where you try and hide, someone you’re related to in some capacity is guaranteed to be around the corner offering you a beverage. They’ll be like: “What’re you up too?” and you’ll choke back the tears because you’ve been up to basically nothing and going through, like, a lot. So you just say “Art stuff! How about you?” and listen to a story about their cat and try to find another place to feel the feelings. Unfortunately, no matter how much you try to isolate from the party, you’re going to get a text that tells you you’re not “contributing enough to the experience.”
You’ll find that every tenth barista has had sex with someone who you’ve had sex with, every fifth bartender has probably seen you do improv, and every third woman over the age of thirty-two probably knows one of the six families you’ve nannied for.
Once you’ve been in Philly for eight years, it’s hard to ever be alone.
Every time I’ve been heart broken in the past, I’ve run home. but, this time I couldn’t because I was already there.
We had to make a few pitstops on the way to Maine.
First, we stopped at my Father’s childhood home in New Jersey. My Grampsy was dying in the living room. His gravely voice nagging me to come say hello was replaced with a sound you’d only know if you actually knew. I asked Them to hold my hand. We both cried.
Coincidentally, after that, We had to go to Brooklyn for Their cousin’s memorial service. I didn’t go with Them. As much as bringing my partner along to see my Grandfather actively taking his last breaths was “kinda my thing”, bringing Their partner along with Them to a memorial service wasn’t “Their thing”. Instead, I spent three hours writing a eulogy for Grampsy at a metal bar in Gowanus. I got too drunk and met up with friends. I ended up farther then I promised Them I’d be at the end of the night. We fought the most ferociously We’ve ever had all the way back to the hotel. We made up before getting the key card from Their Mom.
In the morning, we ate stale Cheerios provided by The Hilton Inn & Suites and brushed our teeth in the parking lot. We drove eight hours to Acadia National Park and forgot what We said.
Two days later, Grampsy died.
Eight Months later, We broke up.
That day, I gave Them a haircut while They sat on the edge of my bathtub.
“This will hold you over until it’s easier to see each other again”.
It didn’t take long to run into them and notice They shaved Their head.
I’ve been here so long, I can’t run home. so I run away instead. $14 dollars will get me to Brooklyn.
Okay… so… uh… try and follow me here…
If the last time I was going to Brooklyn, I was actively accepting the inevitable grief of losing a grandparent while simultaneously beginning the end of a long-term relationship, and THIS time I’m traveling to Brooklyn, I’m actively grieving the inevitable end of the thing that was just beginning last time, what sort of new grief cycle am I about to start? What should I prepare myself to grieve next? I stare out the window, finally free of the familiar faces of a scrappy city I used to feel happy to die in. Through big dramatic tear droplets, I watch the compact blue skyline of my home of eight years zoom by. In two and a half hours it’s replaced with one much bigger and novel.
I’m back home by the weekend. To my delight, I run into someone new for a change. A few minutes after sharing all the same interests “how do we not know each other?” leads into “I live in West Philly!” and then “Me Too!!’ and then “I’m at 45th and Kingsessing!” and then “I used to live at 45th and Kingsessing! I was at 1214 South 45th!”
and then because it is, of course, Philly;
“1214 south 45th? That’s where I live now”
“I think "I’m moving though”
“Where are you going?”
“I’m between LA and Brooklyn! How about you?”
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