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The Moments of Gratitude: Feeling Philly

I have to believe on days like today.  There is a force, an omnipresence, cloaking me in content, warmth, love, and guidance.  None of these things could be bad, in fact they are what I asked for.  So how can I not believe, what does it hurt?  Oh the struggles of an Agnostic Hindu!

I think of Brahma, Allah, Buddha, Yahweh, Mohammad, Jesus, Nature, Spirituality, Fate, Morality…and I know there is something pulling me to a greater purpose.  I know that my dreams can come true, only if I wish them.  Only if I think them, do they become possibilities, because without vision the picture’s hard to paint.

I moved to Philadelphia December 2005 – right around Christmas.  My then boyfriend accompanied me on this new beginning in a great city.  We shared an apartment in Gateway Towers.


It was the first place I liked when searching online for apartments.  The biggest need we both had was parking.  And this building had it all – fitness center, free parking (lots all around the building), security, privacy, safety, and right next to FDR park.


I was in love; and when I saw it, I knew it would be my new home.  There is this spirit, this aura that I feel whenever I enter a place that I know will make me truly content.  I loved the lacquered hardwood floors and the mirrors that made the spacious one bedroom feel even bigger.


And I loved the view of the train tracks and sky.  It just felt peaceful.  Looking out there it made me feel like we couldn’t possibly be in a city and I was always amused by that.  I also loved the beautiful murals painted on them.

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I loved to take walks around the property, the park, and in the neighborhood.  I would have to say it must be the safest place in Philadelphia, being that it’s nestled in a great location.  This also made it not the most convenient to public transportation, which was the only downside.  But if I missed the bus, the 15 minute walk to the subway was a good workout.  The first year there I lucked out and found a job that included free parking.  I used to drive down 18th everyday in an attempt to bypass I-76 (later I gave in and took the highway).  But during those initial months of driving that road, I enjoyed the chance to take in the scenery.  The commute reminded me that I do live in a city.  The hustle bustle of downtown is like a surge of electricity: energizing me, exciting me, making me feel alive.  I would pass by the newly rehabbed properties, dreaming of home ownership, Graduate Hospital, Lombard Apothecary, and the most beautiful brownstone next to a church.  This was always the spot along the drive where I felt truly exhilarated.  I loved this quintessential image of the city.  The pictures of brownstones in magazines, movies, and books always drew me in.  I imagined living in one of those skinny buildings, crammed against my neighbors, close but far away.  I dreamt of walking through a park like Rittenhouse, cutting across to my cozy studio.  In the winter, when they would hang the Christmas lights my heart would melt.


Barnes & Noble’s green awning conjured images of festivities and merriment.  The library was inviting, inspiring me with it’s amazing art book collection.  By the time I would turn down Arch St. to park, I was ready to face anything.  I needed my city fix, like a coffee addict needs their caffeine (coming from a former user).  Once I realized I-76 though slow,  was still the faster option, I gave up my 18th St. excursion; but I would venture that course every so often.

Since then I inched closer and closer to the city, dreaming of a day when I would live in my dream location.  But it always seemed like a stretch on my budget.  Somehow when I dreamed of my life in the city when I first arrived, Bhagwan and Fate heard.  They led me on my journey to happiness without me even realizing it.  So after Deep South, Point Breeze, and Callowhill, I was ready for my studio in the city.  I scoured Craigslist, Philadelphia Weekly, City Paper, and kept my eyes peeled for rental signs.  Each pocket of Philly has a different vibe, and in the city you’re paying for that special effect.  As a craft artist, Fabric Row would be my dream home, but nothing ever seems to be available around there.  So I looked East and West of Broad.  It was slim pickings, being off season.  The first place had a mini fridge which was a deal breaker (I like my leftovers)!  The next place was in a cute row home style building, on a tree lined street, steps from Rittenhouse.  It was small, and had a few cosmetic issues, but when I left I felt that feeling – this was home.  Something about the neighborhood was just magical.  It’s the same way I feel about Carrie Bradshaw’s street (from Sex and the City).  She steps out on her beautiful stoop, on a tree lined street, but she can turn the corner and feel the city beating and vibrating.  I continued to see a few more places, worried I might lose the studio, but I had to see the competition.  And the competition turned out to be stiff.  I mulled over it, and finally went with the place that called to my heart.  Something just told me this is where I was meant to be.  I called the leasing consultant, paid the deposit, and took the lease.  After that a permanent smile was glued to my face.  I couldn’t even contain it in the street so I let it permeate my whole being.  I would finally be a city dweller.  I think the most important thing is to feel gratitude for all that we really have and all that we can have.  It’s easy to go through the motions of living, yet not be alive within those moments.  We must attempt to savor each new change, because that is how we find the meaning of our life.  Believing this all the time, now that is the challenge, but worth the effort.  I feel blessed to be able to move to this great city, explore some of it’s different neighborhoods, and now be in the heart of it.


From earlier in the day I decided I would treat myself to a movie, and I headed in a bit late to see New York, I Love You.  It was the perfect ending to a perfect day.  I just got an apartment in the city I love, and I enjoyed watching my birthplace on the big screen.  NYC will always hold a special place inside me – no other city has that effect on me: it’s true love.  There was something magical about that short time in my life when I lived in NYC as a baby.  It got into my blood and it calls me everyday to return, and one day I will.  But Philly is now also part of me.  It’s the birthplace of my country and the start of so many amazing possibilities for me.  After the movie I floated home in a haze of glee.  When I arrived home I flipped through the pictures on my camera phone, followed by a virtual walk through my new neighborhood (courtesy of Google Maps Street View).  As I “walked” along 18th I started recognizing everything – the shops, the houses, the architecture.  It was not until that moment that I realized this was my old driving route I would be living on.  And that is when I saw the brownstone and the church, and tears welled in my eyes.  The same amazing sight 3 years ago, the place I fantasized about living near, I had ended up there unintentionally.  How did this happen without me even realizing it?  What was that feeling of finding my home?  What was that force that made sure I ended up there?  For some they might say nothing, must good planning and luck, but for me I can’t wholly believe that.  This deep notion lies in me, believing some force in this universe is leading me down my path; I paint the picture of my dreams and as I labor and love through this life, I end up exactly where I want to be.  The fantasy is now a reality, and gratitude is my gift to the universe.

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Now here’s a little music to get you in the city vibe.  Enjoy:)

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