Me and SEPTA go way back man...

On a recent Saturday drive into Philly, I found myself gripping the steering wheel and cursing any obstacle which delayed the impossible mission of finding an open parking spot. Damn this city needs more parking! I circled blocks and blocks for seemingly hours in defiance of overpriced parking garages - swerving around treacherous potholes, oblivious pedestrians, and farting SEPTA buses.

At this point, public transportation seemed romantic ... as nostalgia for my college days of assorted bus and subway rides rumbled through my senses. Driving in the city can be maddening. Driving a daily commute through the jersey suburbs can be as isolating as it is convenient. As I smile at a group of backpacked kids urgently disappearing down the subway stairs, I remember the youthful freedom of jumping on and off the train on random Saturdays and pounding the pavement in sync with the heartbeat of the city to explore different locales.

Then there was the C bus that ran up and down Broad St. As an avid people-watcher, I found this daily commute to be eternally ripe with an intriguing and diverse crop of characters. For me, it was reality TV before Reality TV. I switched my attention from person to person like I switch TV channels on the remote - imagining their background stories and their final destinations. Greeting the same people at the same time each day with our non-verbal acknowledgments became akin to seeing old friends. Funny thing is I probably wouldn't recognize these familiar faces outside of the bus or train. But even when rides became overcrowded and chaotic, I could always manage to close my eyes and find some solitude to meditate, reflect and process my thoughts. In other words, thoughts on girls, music and sports (I never claimed that I was a deep kid).

No, I'm not overlooking the piss-stained stairways and rat-infested tracks of the subway or the delayed pickups at the bus stops. I haven't forgotten the awkwardness of having strangers sleep on your shoulder or seeing guns getting pulled on late night rides or hearing my friend's story of the masterbating hobo...but I still smile when I remember these stories.

As I finally find my parking spot miles away from where I need to be, I find myself walking behind a kid who reminded me of myself back in the day. Just substitute the Discman for an iPod and the Nautica & Tommy Hill for L-R-G & a Bape-inspired hoodie. The kid spots a sneaker shop and disappears. I check my watch...and seeing that I'm already running late, I decide to dip in right after him to check out the kicks. What's a few more minutes of being young at heart?

The Roots - Push Up Ya Lighter


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