Rittenhouse Square

Last night I sat in Rittenhouse Square, with an ice cream cone in one hand and a clove cigarette (pilfered from a pack my roommate left behind) in the other. I sat on the wall near the fountain, enjoying the coolish air and the undemanding company of strangers. There were couples meandering past, individuals walking with purpose, a cluster of trendy/hipster girls with their feet in fountain, the guy on the lawn throwing a ball for his joyful boxer and two (one acoustic, one electric) guitarists playing for each other.

I began to think about all the summer evenings I’ve sat in the square, and all the different emotions that have motivated my presence there. I moved to Philadelphia in January of 2002, knowing almost no one (my 86 year old grandmother didn’t really count). That first summer, I still hadn’t found my niche, my grandmother had just died and I was living alone. I went to Rittenhouse that summer because I was lonely. I needed to be with people, to be around the energy of humanity. That summer I went to visit the ghosts of my younger self, playing on the goat. Of my mom as a college student. Of my grandmother and great-grandmother, as young mothers. I needed to be connected to them through physical space, so that I wouldn’t feel so empty and alone.

The following summer (2003), I had found friends and was deeply in love with my first serious boyfriend. I took him to Rittenhouse, so that I could be one of those couples who wanders through and around the square, with no specific destination, content to be near each other and sharing an experience.

Last summer, I nursed my broken heart in the square. I would start to feel restless in my apartment, rendered much quieter since he had moved out, and would head for the square to escape pain. I would sit on the wall by the fountain, and weep into my cell phone, my mother at the other end, unable to do more than listen.

Last night, in this summer of 2005, I went to the square with a feeling of contentment. I wasn’t there to fill a hole. I was there to enjoy the trees, the air, the night and myself. To celebrate the changes I’ve wrought in my life (starting a new job Monday). To bask in the joy of the present and the promise of my future. It felt good.

1 Comment so far

  1. Sherri W. (unregistered) on July 30th, 2005 @ 2:05 pm

    Friends that pass in the evening…. Matt and I hung out there a little bit early yesterday evening (7:30? maybe?), feeding my new digital photography addiction. We ended up at the 17th Street Little Pete’s for dinner, and then shopped the bargain shelves at B&BN before stopping to get Matt a milkshake at Ben & Jerry’s as we meandered home along Chestnut street…..

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