I was enjoying my time in Philly, but as it was coming to a close, I was ready to leave. Some cities are great for a weekend, some for a week, and some forever. Philly is not a city that I could live in, but I do feel incredibly grateful that this is the city I was in when Joe Biden won the 2020 Presidential election. I am not usually one to share my political opinions, but this story feels too unbelievable to withhold.
The week leading up to the Saturday announcement was hard. It was hard to be visiting one of the most important states while knowing it was not one in which I voted. I felt helpless. I was refreshing the election results every ten minutes. Little did I know, Saturday morning a notification would come through my phone like a gift. I didn’t have to refresh to see it. It came to me.
The Saturday I am talking about was November 7, 2020. That Saturday my boyfriend and I had already planned to explore the city. We left our tourist tasks for the last possible day. As we left our apartment around 11 AM, the air felt different. The energy of the city felt happy and contagious. It was the only time in my lifetime that I felt joy from hearing cars beep their horns.
The first spot we reached was Independence Hall. We saw a small crowd and thought it was amazing, but did not think there was more. We were about to turn left to go towards Old City when we heard a lot of noise. I couldn’t resist. I had to see what was going on. When we turned the corner, there was a massive crowd on the south side of Independence Hall. Every time a car or bus drove through, the crowd erupted in cheers. People had signs and flags and shirts. Everyone was wearing a smile.
To be in the city that helped Biden win the election was surreal. To be in the city that the Declaration of Independence was signed was a once in a lifetime moment that could not have been planned. To be doing all of this for an election that people are claiming saved democracy, in its birthplace, felt inspirational. If I had to describe all of my emotions in one word, it would be hope.
We continued walking on. Moments after talking about needing to eat federal donuts before we left, we stumbled upon one. It was fate. We kept walking onwards toward Old City. There were so many people gathered and more who looked like they were just starting their day. I have not seen people come together like that for a joyous reason in too long.
We saw Betsy Ross’s house and Elfreth’s Alley. We wandered to get a feel for the neighborhood and then decided to go back to the apartment. It was an exhausting morning.
After our nap and watching some videos of other cities’ celebrating, we ventured back out for our dinner reservations at SamPan. We walked the same route toward Center City, but this time, we bumped into a parade. A parade of random people celebrating together accompanied by a marching band.
We got to the restaurant, ordered, and started our date. Right as our first course came to the table, we heard more music. A smaller band was traveling through the streets performing. It was dinner and a show. So many people gathered around the band dancing, laughing, and singing along. It was dreamlike. The table we were placed at had perfect views of the group but still kept us removed. This was especially great because there is still a pandemic going on.
I feel blessed that my memory of this historic day will be this one. It seemed like a scene from a movie. A day filled with pure joy and hope in the city where it all began. It was the perfect ending to our month in Philly.
What did I learn about #ElainainPhilly? It is really hard to document your exploration and enjoy it, too. My challenge to myself is to figure out how influencers do it.
CHALLENGE: Next time you have a day that you don’t want to forget, write it down. I bet I will be reading this post to my grandchildren one day.