Old Haunts

I was going to write a huge detail-filled post about last weekend, and realized that there was just a lot that would be dull to readers, and a smattering that would be inappropriate to share. So I’ll hit the high points.

I spent the long weekend in Philadelphia, the city I lived in from graduation through the rest of my 20’s. It was a targeted trip, specific people I needed to see. (So those of you Philly pholks who are gasping in outrage that I didn’t call you up to get together, sorry about that, next time, I hope.) Took the train down, stayed in an AirBnb despite the repeated offers of a dear friend of houseguesting with them.

Friday night I spent with said dear friend, Marianne – a friend from opera chorus days – and Gaylord, two lovely people who I hadn’t seen since they came up for C’s viewing. We went out to a local restaurant (Bistrot la Minette), new to me but an old favorite of theirs, had a great time. Also, M very helpfully gave me a key to their house so I could use it as a rest stop or whatever over the weekend, particularly on Monday when I’d need a place to stash my suitcase after checkout.

Saturday, I started the day with a powerwalk down to my old apartment building in the Italian Market area.

‘That ‘history’ plaque is new, and there were several others scattered around in the Italian Market when I walked back. The very plain building on the left was mine – I had the top floor. The building on the right was just an empty plot when I lived there – we’d been the end building. Walked around a bit more, back up 9th to see the Italian Market, then to Starbucks for breakfast.

I then went up to Roxborough to visit my kinda-sorta-ex, Jim. He’d been depressed and had health problems lately, I wanted to make sure he was basically OK. Turns out he was fine – for Jim, anyway – the same steady state he’s always in. He’s kind of a hermit, and the house he’s now owned for over 30 years continues to be a disaster of unfinished renovations, but it’s not a hoarder’s paradise at least, and it’s not like he entertains. We hung out and talked, went out to lunch, then eventually took the bus back to Center City, where we hung out at my place. We watched “Bros”, which I really enjoyed, and went out to dinner at Tavern on Camac (which was fine without being great). Very interesting seeing the old ‘Gayborhood’ – much has changed, much remains the same.

Jim spent the night at the AirBnB, not sure why (I mean, I invited him, but not sure what he got out of it). He found the bed’s mattress uncomfortable, spent the night curling his long frame awkwardly on the couch. I noticed during the night he’d shut the bedroom door on me, meaning that even with the CPAP machine, my mild snoring annoyed him. I told him the next morning, ‘boy, I thought Charles was a princess, but you really are going for it too…’ Anyway, it was nice to get caught up, but I thought about the whole thing later and realized whatever frustration I had was completely on-brand for that relationship, which has been remarkably consistent for about 35 years now. *sigh*


Sunday, Jim left when I did, him to catch the bus back home, me to head out to Media to have lunch with my aunt and cousins. Joyce, my dad’s sister, has a condo with her two younger sons, Rob and John, and oldest son Pete lives out in Downingtown with his wife, Kelly and her son. Joyce, Rob and John picked me up at the train station and brought me to a charming cafe for brunch, where we were joined by Pete and Kelly. Very nice meal, we got caught up as much as necessary. (Rob, John and I have nothing in common but DNA, so we don’t have a lot to talk about.)

Headed to the condo, where I hung out for the rest of the afternoon. Pete and Kelly headed back home after a bit, Rob disappeared to his room, and John went out to meet friends, but Joyce and I chatted all the way up to the time she drove me back to the train station. These are people I love who I don’t get to see often (neither side of my family is big on getting together with any regularity) and this was a really nice visit.

Back in Center City, after a chillout break in the apartment, I went out to relive my 20’s as a single gay boy out on the town (now fat, old and tired). Went to the U Bar (back in my day, it was “Uncles”) for a cocktail, had a great time. It was full without being ridiculously crowded (Sunday night before a holiday, so felt like a Saturday). I got a seat at the far end of the oval bar, and just drank and watched, and tried not to make eye contact with the young man sitting cattycorner from me who clearly wanted to. If I lived in Philly now, I could tell that this would be the bar I’d hang out in – older crowd, very much the age and type of men I’d want to socialize with. No one approached me (except that young man, who gave it a valiant effort just as I finished my cocktail and left), but that was fine.

Searched then for some restaurants I’d vaguely looked up online, but didn’t find any. Ended up at a (not-gay) restaurant called Bud and Marilyn’s, a block south of Woody’s. Restaurant week had just started, and I got their prix-fixe dinner special, really really good. And then back to the apt for TV and bed.


Monday, I needed to get out of the apt by 10:00, and had vague brunch plans with David DB, someone who I’d been… encountering?… on and off for forever. We met in Philly doing opera stuff and sorta? dated, and then reconnected in NYC, where we kept running into each other. He’d reached out post-‘the thing’ to say, ‘when you’re in Philly, let’s get together’, so we were.

I’d been not over-planning, trusting things to fall into place. I’d told David that I’d probably be around 5th and Lombard dropping off my suitcase with M&G, so let’s meet around there. But he hadn’t actually chosen a place, and M&G invited me to join them and their son at their own brunch. “OK”, I thought, thinking I could tell David to meet us there and then I’d leave one table and we’d sit at another one. But it turned out that M&G were going to a place in South Philly, a block from the now-closed Melrose Diner, which I wasn’t expecting.

Anyway, I drank tea while M, G and C had brunch at Cafe y Chocolate. Real conversation was happening, but I was totally distracted texting David to make sure he know where to go, and hoping that when he showed up, there’d be a table for us. As it was, it worked out nicely – the family finished their brunch and was ready to go when David got there. I introduced everyone (humorously, turned out David, G and C had taken the same yoga class together) and then David and I got another table.

We had a great brunch. The food was lovely and I got some of that Mexican chocolate. We had a long long talk – I don’t know if we’d ever really gotten a chance to sit and talk like that before. And then drove back to Center City to walk around the neighborhood and go to Giovanni’s Room, the gay bookstore. I won’t go into details, but this felt very much like a date, even though David has a (not-monogamous) boyfriend, and it was just really nice to have that mutual interest happening. Gives me hope for my future dating life in general.

David drove me back to M&G’s to pick up my suitcase, then to the train station… and I went home, no real issues. (Except I was hungry and ordered a pizza and there was a problem with the delivery and I won’t go into it, but it was effing frustrating).


The end, pretty much, but here are some impressions:

  • I have great fondness for Philadelphia, and I did a lot of growing up there. There are parts of Center City that are beautiful and lovely to walk around. There are great resources there, with arts and parks and surroundings. But it wasn’t a great fit for me and I was right to leave it. Now that my future is much more open-ended than it was a year ago, it certainly occurred to me that I could move back. But I don’t know why I would.
  • I’d never stayed in an AirBnB before. I know you have a great range of types of places you can stay, starting from just ‘a room in someone’s house’. M told me she’d stayed in them up in Vermont where not only was the proprietor on-site, they wanted to socialize with you. No no no. I got a full apartment (having had such a great experience in Cape Cod with one) and was emailed the punchcodes for the front door and apartment door, and never had to meet anyone.
  • The apartment itself… well, I’d gone for cheap and got cheap. I would probably go higher end next time. But everything was minimally acceptable.
  • Also hadn’t realized until I got there that, duh, it was a third floor walkup (just like my last Philly apartment) and of course I’d just finished a month of PT addressing the problems I’d been having with stairs. Clearly, the PT worked, the stairs weren’t a problem even with the suitcase, but lots of huffing and puffing once I reached the top.

Well, I’ll be back, probably sooner than later. That’s an easy trip to make and there are many other people there I’d like to see.


Now back to ‘normal’, regular work week, spending this weekend deChristmassing. I realized last night as I was winding down the day and just planning to have dinner and watch a movie on TV, that I really kinda wanted to go out again. I didn’t, but I think next weekend I’ll actually maybe go out on Saturday night, or Sunday afternoon, like I did that night in Philly.

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