Written by on September 20, 2015

While we were talking, we did the math. Almost 18 years since seeing one of your besties is way, way too long.

Philadelphia has raised me into adulthood. Given me an education, lots of artistic and professional opportunities, and I am eternally grateful. But DC will forever be home, even without having an address there to call mine anymore. I can drive her backstreets and avoid her circles like a boss. I miss her accent terribly if I don’t hear it in a while, amusing myself by randomly saying things like “young” and “Murrlyn” out loud for the full effect. And then, of course, there are the people.

My high school–Howard Dilworth Woodson Senior High, affectionately known as “HD”–had an alumni picnic last weekend where I had to show my face. Although I made it back to several events in the early years after graduation, I haven’t attended anything alumni-related since my 10-year reunion. But this was a must-do for many reasons. It was held in the park down the hill from the house where I grew up, a place where I used to ride the swings or hear Stacy Lattisaw and Johnny Gill sing every summer during the concert series. One of my buddies from my class was a main organizer (no pressure, kind of). And one of my all-time favorite people promised me that he’d come if I did. So, how could I say no?

Mercury Retrograde is a funny thing. Most of the time, you hear people complaining about the traffic snafus, communications glitches, or reemergence of people and situations that you would rather consider resolved. But whenever I come into contact with those blasts from the past, I know it’s for good reason. Former loves. Cherished co-workers. And old friends, like Corey, who know it’s been nearly 18 years since we’ve laid eyes on one another, but will still flop down on a picnic bench, make me laugh, pose for pictures and gossip with me like we did every day at the former Mighty Tower of Power. (Seriously. We had picnic-style tables in our cafeteria. And we were both on the Yearbook Committee.)

Friends don’t judge, much. They’ll tell you about yourself, but love you anyway. And after acknowledging that we haven’t been in each other’s space since the late 90s, we moved on. Had fun conversations with alumni from classes years before ours. Joked about the joys of being single and childless, yet open to lifelong companionship. Traded stories about our respective passport stamps. Our jobs. The changes happening in our hometown. Conversations that we should have been having over the last 18 years, but didn’t, outside of Facebook. No matter. Gotta seize moments when you get them. Honor the power of the present.

Philly, I love and appreciate you. But I hope you’ll forgive me for waxing poetic more often about the place that gave me life. Between family history and my memories, there is a lot to dissect and digest. Answers to questions I didn’t even know I needed to ask. Connections that deserve rekindling.

Thank you, Mercury. Trust me, I do not plan to shoot the messenger.

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