My Fourth of July

I feel that this is important to blog about, not because it was a very epic day by any means, but because if this blog is going to be a true reflection of my time spent in Philadelphia this summer, I need to include the Fourth of July.
My adventure started with a longer-than-expected bus ride.
Being a rather paranoid traveler when it comes to public transportation, I had researched online the correct bus route to the museum before I set out from 1300. I knew exactly what to do to get to where I wanted to go (i.e. Get on Broad Street subway line, get off at City Hall, walk across to the north side of JFK Blvd, where I wait for bus 32, which will take me to the museum). Hey, knowledge is power… especially in a new city where getting off at the wrong stop can sometimes be dangerous.
So anyway, I knew where I was going. Waiting for the bus was actually rather enjoyable, because even though it was swelteringly hot outside, I got to look at Philadelphia’s City Hall building while I waited. Yay!
The reflection of City Hall on a nearby building.
The bus finally arrived and I hopped on. After a couple stops, a seat finally opened up (it was a very crowded bus) and I took a seat. I could now hear the conversation between the two girls behind me, and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to eavesdrop on the gossip being exchanged (something about a baby daddy and “Nuh-uh. She didn’t!” and prom– so fascinating!).
My entertainment sadly got off the bus a few stops later, so I’ll never find out what happened after the cheating boyfriend approached her in the crowded auditorium. I’d like to imagine that the girl slapped that boy silly for thinking he could come back to her after what he did, but judging from her remarks, she just might have taken him back. Wish I knew.
A couple stops later, I started to wonder where we are. Remember how I had memorized the bus route I was taking to the museum? I definitely didn’t remember this many stops on the route. Come to think about it, why are we heading north?
I start to panic a little on the inside. Did I just completely miss my stop? I was so engrossed in the story behind me that its entirely possible. But we’re headed north? That doesn’t happen until much further up on the map (unless my scale is way off), in which case I’d better get off NOW because the farther north we go, the less I would feel comfortable being alone in a neighborhood I don’t know.
I look around. There are a few other passengers shuffling nervously. This strikes me as odd. And then I happen to see, through some trees, the museum. But we are definitely on the wrong side of that museum by now.
I stand up and make my way to the front.
“Um, excuse me, sir?”
No response. I decide that my timid voice is ineffective in this situation.
“Hey,” I say much louder, “doesn’t this bus stop at the art museum?”
If I hadn’t been in a panic over that fact that I was quickly headed in the wrong direction on a vehicle that is out of my control, I would have found the bus driver’s look of dismay very entertaining.
“Oh god. I missed your stop.”
He then pulls over to the side of the street and opens the doors.
“If any of you are getting off at the museum, I missed your stop,” he calls out. “But you can just get off the bus here, walk two blocks that way and over the bridge, and you are right there.”
I get off, laughing. Now that everything is figured out, I don’t actually mind that the guy missed my stop, because he missed the stop for more than half the other people on the bus too. So we all get off, almost twenty of us, and walk back toward the museum.
The best part of the detour was that it took us through a neighborhood in Philly that I would never have gotten to see otherwise. It was a lower middle-class neighborhood, but the streets and houses were well kept. Being a holiday (and a Sunday), everyone in the neighborhood was outside, having one giant block party. The people who lived there had blocked off almost all the streets with tape and parked cars so there was no traffic, and everyone was playing basketball, grilling, and (in some places) dancing in the middle of the street. Parents were sitting on porch steps, music was blaring, and kids were shouting and running around.
I wanted to be there and be a part of that community so badly. It made me really wish (not for the first time) that I had grown up in a neighborhood where we actually knew our neighbors and hung out with the surrounding kids, etc. They all looked like they were just having the best time, and I would gladly have traded a free concert by some big band (any band, for that matter) for an afternoon with them. But none of them knew my ponderings nor asked me to join their giant family for the day, so I continued to walk on (probably looking a little forlorn).
Soon I came to the bridge, crossed over the bridge, and approached the museum from the back.
Approaching the Museum of Art from the “wrong” side
Philadelphia skyline (from the bridge)
It actually turned out really well that the bus driver forgot my stop and that I approached the park from that particular side, because it just so happened that I approached the crowd on the exact same side as where my friend (and fellow OC) Matya was standing. We were already planning to meet up, and so instead of having to go through an intense ordeal of “Stage right or your right?,” “Where?!” and “I’m waving and wearing blue,” we had a just very short phone conversation followed by a pleasantly quick “Oh, I see you!.” It worked out perfectly, and I’m very grateful for that.
We were really close to the stage… The production wasn’t
big enough to have large TV screens or anything like that,
but that didn’t matter, since we were close enough to the
stage to see everything pretty well.
And then after all the bands played… FIREWORKS!
Sharing fireworks with over 500,000 strangers = a beautiful moment

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