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The Philadelphia Story

2004-02-03 - 9:48 a.m.

Today, I wait breathlessly for a telephone call that will tell me whether I am the recipient of a 1-2 year scholarship to the UK or an also ran.

To try to take my mind off of the wait, I figured I'd talk about my trip to Philadelphia, the place where I spent four of the craziest, sweetest, hardest, most amusing, most dramatic (in many different ways) years of my life. I'd forgotten a lot of things.

Such as what real cold feels like. Now, everyone around me in Austin has been complaining about how cold it's been lately. I found myself getting into the spirit of things, cursing the mornings when my car was covered in ice and wishing I could go without my sweaters. but I never put on my overcoat, because some part of me knew that this was cheap imitation cold, ColdBeaters, or perhaps, most accurately, I Can't Believe It's Not Cold.

Philadelphia was cold. Philadelphia was high of 32 degrees cold. Philadelphia was stay out long enough and even your hands get cold inside your gloves cold. Philadelphia was wish that you could cover every inch of your skin with fabric, because the wind is actually managing to rip off the skin, exposing the raw nerves cold. This was doubly true in SuperBlock, the area of Penn campus where I lived for my last two years and through which I had to walk many times on this trip. Superblock consists of three high-rise buildings and three low-rise buildings, all of which are student housing, along with a couple of frat houses, some trees, Hillel, and a hideous red sculpture that has been nicknamed, with remarkable accuracy, The Dueling Tampons. This block of campus was designed by a man from Arizona, who, being used to dealing with 100+ summers, designed it to create a wind tunnel.

That's right, a wind tunnel. In Philadelphia. In winter, when all the students are there, as opposed to summer, when they're not. Suffice to say, we Penn students have fantasies of finding the man and strapping him naked to the Tampons.

As awful as the cold was, i had missed it. I had missed the feeling of cold inside my cheeks. Unfortunately, I brought a cold of a much less pleasant sort with me to Philly, and being in horrendous weather didn't help matters.

This was why, the morning of my 12-hour interview session, I woke up early, went to our local supermarket (which was built at the end of my Junior year, and which was solely responsible for maintaining my sanity during my Senior year), and bought myself two excessively vitaminated bottles of juice. I then waited a good 20 minutes in the FREEZING cold for two people who were kind enough to drive me to the hotel where our event was taking place. The people turned out to be women, both of whom were in very high, uncomfortable looking heels. There are times when I am very glad I am a boy, and seeing stilettoes in the snow always counts. One of the women had "Texan" written all over her, and I was not surprised at all when I found out that she was from Katy, which for those who ain't from 'round these parts is a suburb of Houston. The cool thing was that her back-up plan, in case she doesn't get the award, is to work on the Kerry campaign. That's my kind of Texan.

Breakfast was breakfast, and after breakfast came the group discussion. Being fully cognizant that pride goeth before the fall, I think I rocked the casbah in that portion. Most people were interested in the speech, and I timed it well, and I managed to do it without the litany of "like, um, y'know" breaking it up into 57 pieces, which usually happens whenever I speak. There was an interesting mix of topics. I managed to get some good one liners at various points. Hopefully, it all worked.

Then came lunch, followed by an afternoon of interviews. The panel interview was fine for everyone, but the family interview--in which we were grilled by descendants of the man who founded this fellowship--made me nervous. You see, I had a great time in this interview. I found the Thouron family fun and funny and charming, and I tried to up the charm quotient as much as I could. Everyone else, however, felt that the interviews were tough, that they had been raked across the coals by these people. My immediate thought was not, "Wow, I have poise like a mofo" but "Shiznit, they so don't care about me that they didn't even bother to give me a hard time." I got to talk to British kids who had won the award and come to the states, and it was cool. Then came drinks, followed by dinner, and I was finally released back into the (freezing) wild.

This is when things got really interesting. I headed back to campus to see a play that was going on that night. I was feeling happy and confident (please let this not bite me on my ass in an hour or two), enough to handle just about anything. In fact, I felt happy enough that, when I thought about seeing the Ditcher, I felt like I could give the Ditcher a hug, and mean it.

For those of you who don't know, The Ditcher ditched me back in the summer of 02. It was realy rough, because I thought of The Ditcher as one of my best friends, and we didn't have a big fight that would have allowed us to at least figure out what was up. Instead, The Ditcher just ditched me, never returning my e-mails, and I eventually got resentful and decided that The Ditcher could kiss my ass.

However, the night before my interview, I was talking with Kidrin, who was good enough to iron my clothes for me, and she said that she wished that The Ditcher and I would realize that this was all just a big misunderstanding, that we had wasted almost two years hating one another for things we didn't mean to do. I told Kidrin that it wasn't that any of us really did anything, it was that I just got ditched, even though I kept sending the "Can we talk about this?" e-mails.

Well, I ran into The Ditcher last night, and I gave her a hug. Now, the thing is that I am a very huggy person. I hug everyone whom I care about, even in passing. I think it's a Mexican thing. Anyway, the last time I saw The Ditcher she gave em a hug, but I gave her the cursory pat on the back. This time, I hugged, because it was too much effort to close myself off when I was in such a good mood already. Then, when The Ditcher walked off, I called out: "Hey Ditcher!"

She came back to me very fast. I gave her another hug, and said I missed her. She leaned into me, and when we broke she asked me if I would be at the party that night. Seeing as I was staying in the house where the party would be, I told her that I would.

When I got to the party, I didn't really talk to The Ditcher. However, we did dance. now, as you know, dance is very important to me. The Ditcher and I, back when we were buds, danced like maniacs. We wiped the floor with everyone else, and we knew it. We were dancers to watch.

The last time I danced with The Ditcher, she said something really awful. I always assumed that she meant it to be awful, but maybe she just said it off hand.

This time, she talked about remembering one of our craziest dance escapades, where we wound up on the floor, writhing around in this very gymnastic fashion. We remembered that it was some good times. We didn't talk afterwards, and we danced with other people, but for that moment, we were almost buds again.

Almost. I don't want to say we're buds until we sort shit out, and we may never sort shit out. But it's nice to know that I won't have to give girlfriend the cold shoulder anymore.

The next day, I spent a fantastic day in New York, where I saw the awesome musical Avenue Q. If you live in the tri-state area, go see it ASAP, and if you don't, catch it the next time you're in New York. Best of all, we got to meet Ann Harada and Stephanie D'Abruzzo, two of the shows stars, afterwards. They were both really friendly as we fawned all over them, which I think is the mark of true talent. Later, at dinner, I found out that Hugh Jackman bats for my team! Let the stalking begin!

All in all, the trip was fantastic. I had fun. It was so worth it. Of course, I didn't get the fellowship, which sucks.


It sucks on behalf of everyone who thinks art isn't important enough to merit funding, and it sucks for me.

But as Avenue Q pointed out, everything in life is only for now. I'll keep that, and all the great memories, in my head today.

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