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Up the Steps with Rocky


"South Philadelphia Musicians" by artist Peter Pagast, Sounds of Philadelphia mural series at 1231-33 East Passyunk Avenue

C. Sophia aka boy crazy: remember the guy from tuesday? pray that he asks me out!!!

Tim: do you want me to pray now or in my private time?

Aileen aka Old Lace: must we always talk about you?

Friday, February 2, 2007
Subject: where have the good(looking) men gone?

hi tim,

it's almost impossible to gather your thoughts in one sitting seeing that you only have 19 mins left to use the darn internet. anyway, I was just thinking about the fact that the world as i observe now, is lacking of its most basic need: cute men.

sometimes it's a struggle just getting out of bed, curling your hair and painting your face with all the rainbow colors knowing that as soon as you step outside, there is simply nothing out there...

oh well.. and to think this is already california. i wonder how goes in other parts of the world?

sighingly yours,
boy crazy

Friday, January 5, 2007
Subject: east coast girl forever

hey tim,

happy new year. hope you had a great(er) time wherever you spent it.

still in sunny cali which (surprisingly) hasn't been so sunny the past couple weeks. family's a-ok, that i'm thankful. on the other hand, i'm not very happy about being back, (frankly, i haven't blogged in awhile, decided to "hibernate" after probably a year and a half of posting, so if i'm babbling -- slap me.) well, you know how i feel about cali, right? yup, i'm back in california where everybody insists i belong. i've never "belonged" here, to be honest. my home has always been the east coast. out here on the west coast, it's different. I accept it as it is, with all its superficiality and cleanliness (not that it's wrong, it just decided to be what it is now without my help)... but i cannot love it the way it wants to be loved (by me). a childhood friend sells cali like a used car salesman, like, " cali 's the BEST" (in bold italics, mind you)... can't blame him, he means well. besides, he was born and bred here.

philadelphia is another story. philadelphia was my sanctuary for 6 years. i loved philly. i will always love philly. it kept me away from everything i dread. It embraced me wholeheartedly and taught me to be strong. to be me. i will forever be grateful to philly.

and if it were a guy, i'd have stayed. yup, if philly were a guy, i'd have stayed and loved [him] for the rest of my life... oh well... 'nuff of that. In fairness to californians, cali 's one of the most beautiful states we have. it's a wonder really, why i know in my heart of hearts i belong elsewhere. you see all kinds of cars (ie benz, bentley, BMW, lamborghini etc neatly parked in every lot); people combining furs with flipflops (yup, only in cali); 100 grand worth of bags and jewelry items just to walk around santana row; then, there are those cali boys who party and drink from 7 am to 7 am (a little exaggeration there.. erm just a teensy bit i might add).

since i came back, i've been drinking nonstop myself. i can't wait to leave, for now i'm hypnotizing myself to enjoy every minute of my "journey" reminding myself i'm going away soon. i want snow! i want freedom to go anywhere i want on a metro, not a flashy car! flashy cars become a bore when your butt sticks to it like a magnet for a long time. no exercise there.

sorry for dumping this on you but there's one consolation out of all my misery these days: family's a-ok.

signed,
boy crazy


Sophie with cousin Mike, with view of Ben Franklin Bridge

Sunday, December 10, 2006
Subject: [Another] Philadelphia Story

Dear Tim,

In a week, everything will change. Philly's blurring even as I write.

Promise you'll keep in touch?

Old Lace

On 12/15/06, cecilia sophia wrote:

> hello everyone, i know i know... it's past 2 am and here i am, typing my heart away but this is the only time i get to email since i'm flying back to san jose on mon to visit family for the holiday season.

>  i'm sure we'll update one another *hinting* on, during or after the break.  my oh my... just imagine the feasting and pound-adding holiday cheer... ha!  i hope everyone will have a wonderful christmas, though :)

> IT'S BASICALLY MY LAST WEEK IN PHILLY, LORD KNOWS WHY I SHOULDNT BE SPENDING MY LAST DAYS IN GOOD OL' PHILADELPHIA AND NEW YORK JUST PLAIN HAPPY.  WHY NOT DATE A LOCAL BOY? I HAD LUNCH WITH TIM FRIDAY LAST WEEK AND MET A WAITER ( OR "FOOD SERVER") WHO'S UBER-CUTE AND A BITTY METRO (YOUNGER VERSION OF MATTHEW BRODERICK).. HE WAS SO CUTE AND VERY SWEET I KEPT BLUSHING AS HE JOKED ABOUT MY PRESENT TO TIM

> (TIM WAS LATE IN COMING AS USUAL), I DIDNT MIND THOUGH, I ACTUALLY WISHED TIM WASNT COMING AT ALL!  ABOUT 15 MINS LATER, MY SISTER AND I WERE STILL WAITING FOR TIMOTHY WHEN THIS GUY CAME UP TO US AGAIN (THE NTH TIME) TO ASK IF OUR FRIEND REALLY KNEW WHERE "SHE" WAS MEETING US.. MY SISTER GOES, "HE KNOWS." HE GOES, "OH.. HIM."  I WHISPERED TO MY SISTER TO LET TIM SIT WITH HER SO THE GUY'D KNOW HE WASNT WITH ME.

> WHEN HE CAME BACK, I ASKED FOR HIS NAME.. YUP, ME.. GOOD OL' ME, ASKING FOR A GUY'S NAME BUT SO WHAT?  IT'S MY LAST WEEK IN PHILLY, RIGHT?  HE HELD OUT HIS HAND AND TOUCHED MINE, I BLUSHED AGAIN.  TIM COMES IN, LEARNS ABOUT THIS GUY AND MAKES A CRACK ABOUT GIVING MY INFO TO HIM.  I SAY, "WHY NOT?"  YUP.. ME. MY FIRST TIME TO WRITE DOWN MY INFO TO SOMEONE I DIDNT EVEN KNOW; MY FIRST TIME TO MAKE THE FIRST MOVE... U COULD IMAGINE HOW MY SIS AND TIM REACTED.. IT WAS A JAW-DROPPING MOMENT FOR BOTH OF THEM.  I CALL THE GUY, ASK FOR A PEN AND PAPER, THEN WROTE DOWN MY INFO ALONG WITH, "THANKS FOR THE TIME!" CALLS HIM BACK, GIVES HIM THE PAPER AND SMILES SWEETLY, HE GOES, "IS THIS FOR ME?" I SAY, "YES, DEFINITELY."  TO MAKE THE STORY SHORT, WE LEAVE THE RESTAURANT AND AS WE'RE ALL WALKING AWAY, I LOOK BACK AND SEE HIM LOOKING OUT THE WINDOW.

> my goodness, those are the times u just cant forget huh? :)   anyway, just sharing this with u guys, i'm sending more ny and philly pics when i get the chance.  it's very sad, my speech went along well reme, i got a plaque from the philadelphians which made my heart break even more. but i'm very happy just to have met all of them.

> i gotta go, i'll write/call when i'm in cali.

> love always, sophie


Cebu, an upscale Filipino restaurant in Old City

November 2006
(my speech to philadelphians on sunday)

i just scribbled a few stuff since i have already said a lot on this podium for the last couple of years.  i'm leaving philadelphia which was my home for the past few years, and as excited as i am to venture out into the open world, i am saddened by the people i'm leaving behind.  i know that till i'm old and grey, i will always remember philly, the church, and you.  i like to think that i have touched the place and the place touched me. *  i thank God for that opportunity and the times i was with you.

***

"I walked the avenue till my legs felt like stone."**I know the streets of Philadelphia like I know my family. They're quirky but totally lovable. If I walked a few blocks to the Swann Memorial Fountain and the Four Seasons Hotel, something amazing was sure to happen, like the time I accidentally met the New York Knicks. A few more blocks and I'd be on 17th & Market, seeking out Liberty Place for my favorite shops and a milkshake. It was intoxicating, the feeling of being free to do whatever I wanted, whenever and still feel safe with the whole city watching my back.

Philly, the City of Brotherly Love, was home to me for six years. I moved four times around Center City and cursed myself each time I did it (if you've experienced the wonders of packing, moving and unpacking, you'll know what I mean) but at the end of the day, it's all good. I found it ultimately rewarding. My very first apartment was in Rittenhouse Square on Walnut Street (shopping!) with Rittenhouse Park just a stone's throw away. I could go barefoot, read, munch, draw, watch concerts, chat with artists working en plein air, take a picture, lie down on one of the park benches. and no one bothered me (too much). My second apartment was on Locust Street right next to the Academy of Music. At night, I would walk with friends along the Avenue of the Arts, drinking in all the culture it has to offer. My third home was in Society Hill, on a quiet, tree-lined street featuring gorgeous Georgian architecture. A few blocks down is eclectic, bohemian South St. (not too far away is Pat's where the cheesesteak, with or without cheese and onions, is to die for). At The Artful Dodger, my friends cheered on as I finished a pitcher of beer. They also cheered on while I ate foot-long hoagies, wondering aloud where I was putting it all. And speaking of pubs, I frequented McGillin's on Drury Street, the oldest tavern in town, Monk's Café on 16 th & Spruce, for the Trappist ales and fries, and the Manayunk Brewery for everything they have. I cheered for the Eagles and Sixers, careful not to jinx them (the Red Sox, however, is a different story).

My fourth move took me to Logan Square in the Art Museum area. I loved living in the vicinity of four museums best of all. I'd step out of my building and literally run into The Thinker. With the Rodin Museum in front of me, the Philadelphia Museum of Art to my left and the Franklin Institute and the Academy of Natural Sciences to my right, I was a happy camper. Running up the museum steps ala Rocky was one of the most exhilarating things ever. You just have to try it for yourself (if you've seen In Her Shoes, you'll know what I mean). Ben Franklin Parkway, practically my backyard, is where they would hold parades and concerts and every 4 th of July, I only had to walk a few steps to watch the fireworks. I wasn't prepared for Live 8, though. The Parkway, by noon, was swarmed by nearly a million people and I had to retreat to my place for air. A couple blocks down, on Vine, is the Free Library, a favorite hang-out where I attended lectures by Newt Gingrich, James D. Watson, Umberto Eco and other fabulous authors. Behind it, on Callowhill, is Whole Foods where I bumped into Denzel Washington and Scott Speedman (in the pasta section, between the breads and meats). Further west, on 30th and Market, is the Amtrak station where I departed and arrived countless times to/from Boston, New York, Chicago, DC, even California (and where I caught the eye of Leo diCaprio for two minutes). I always came back, except for last year when I knew it was time to move on.

I walked and drank my way around Philly, from Logan Square to Rittenhouse to South Street to University City to the Main Line and back, in a blizzard, a heat wave, in my high heels. Some people call Philly the City of Brotherly Snob. Well, okay, maybe it's not always the friendliest of cities. (Incidentally, it's been called New York 's sixth borough. If New York's The City, Philly's definitely The Town). My philosophy is, if you're not feeling the love, pass it on and it might just come back to you. It worked for me, a hundred-thousand fold.

* quoting James D. Houston
** from Streets of Philadelphia by Bruce Springsteen

© C. Sophia Ibardaloza

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