Michael and I have a flirty little love affair with Philadelphia, and it's become our go-to city for escaping. It seems almost silly, doesn't it, what with New York City being just a short train ride away? But last time I checked, New York City is still in my state, too close to my own hometown for comfort. When we go away, we like to GO. AWAY. Meaning we don't want our Spidey senses tingling like they do when we suspect we're about to bump into someone we know, or worse yet, someone we don't like. Like pretty much anytime we walk through the automatic doors of Target. So at least once a year, when things get dicey with the routine, we head to Philadelphia for a change of scenery. More on that in a bit.
It's been an interesting month for me. At the beginning of the year, I kind of got sick of myself. I got tired of my own excuses, my own weaknesses, my own self-imposed stupidity and limitations. The gory details of this discovery are not for public consumption, at least, not today, but suffice it to say, I spent January 2011 replacing bad things with good things, cleaning out the cupboards of my soul and steam cleaning the shag carpeting of my heart while Windexing the black scum off the window of my brain after scraping the black mold off of the baseboards of my existence and what have you.
Because 2010 kind of sucked, right? It was a really bad year for a lot of people, and although it was less bad for me than others, I still got to stand back and watch while people I liked or at least respected got their asses handed to them by a massive economic collapse. People lost jobs, lost houses or were simply forced to accept the fact that because they can't go anywhere else, they will continue to stagnate and rot at jobs they hate indefinitely, everyday a soul-shattering reminder of choices poorly made, or decisions based on not having the luxury of "choices".
Personally, my year sucked in other ways. Michael toured extensively last year, and it put a strain on our lives both logistically and otherwise. During the summer was particularly difficult, given that he was essentially gone from the first week of May until the 1st of August (he got a few days off between tour legs here and there, but that seemed to add to his travel fatigue). When he returned and was home for the rest of the year, it was a difficult shift from the constant movement of touring to the less constant activity of taking care of the homefront. Both are difficult, but they are so differently difficult that being thrust from one to the other is shocking to the system.
As for the other things that made 2010 suck, well, I'll just say that I let some things in my life get out of hand and leave it at that. And some of those things carried over into the beginning of this year despite my most sincere and heartfelt efforts to keep that from happening. But hey, what can you do? Self-improvement isn't a light switch. It's more like attempting to light a series torches set up all over a desert island that has no electricity and is pitch dark and raining 24 hours a day: Before you can even think about lighting them, you have to come up with a way to keep them lit.
Or whatever. I don't know. In other words, KANDY DO GOOD STUFF, BUT GOOD STUFF SO HARD DO!
Which brings us to Philadelphia.
I will be the first to admit to my personal limitations, and sometimes I can only fight the good fight for so long until I need to retreat into a cave. It doesn't happen very often. Usually all I need is to go into my bedroom, close the door, and unleash a torrent hot, salty tears into my pillow, followed by the realization that eventually, 9pm will come without fail and then I can lose myself in TV or sleep's dark embrace before starting all over again fresh the next day. But thanks to a number of things that happened last week that were distinctly Not Part of the Plan, Michael and I decided it wasn't a situation where we wanted to get away. It was a situation where we absolutely needed to for the sake of both our relationship and the ones we have with those around us. Luckily, it was Madeline's weekend to be in Brooklyn with her dad, so the timing couldn't have been better.
It was a fabulous little vacation. We explored quirky shops and comic book stores and one art museum which was inexplicably empty given how good the work was inside. We ate our way across 10 blocks and indulged our love of a good Indian dinner buffet (Michael beat his record with 9 samosas). We fell asleep early and woke up early but well-rested after soaking in an almost intolerably hot jacuzzi tub and then slipping into a coma on the most insanely comfortable mattress I've ever slept on the night before. We didn't take enough pictures, but we bought excellent gifts for the girls. We held hands the entire time. Michael bought me flowers for no other reason except that they were there and so was I. We walked constantly. We stopped in New Hope on the way home because it's a cute town, and we walked some more, despite our tired legs and sore knees. We forgot about the stupid, meaningless annoyances that seem so large and insurmountable when constantly addressed, but so small when confronted when faced with how much we love each other and how mighty we are together.
Even now, as I sit in my back-destroying office chair under soul-destroying fluorescent lights, I haven't really returned. I'm still there, with Michael, stumbling along icy, narrow sidewalks in search of a hot cup of coffee to drink or an interesting building to explore, far from the incessant, niggling drone of my inconsequential weaknesses. They can't touch me, and I feel stronger than ever.