I know you’re aching to find out what we did on our summer vacation, but I keep telling you about incidental things that happened along the way. While I have butt-loads of photos and videos from our trip, I do have to fast-forward to the last leg. BUTT before I do, how much IS a butt-load? Can you put umpteen items in a butt-load? Just curious. Anyhoo…
Irene kept us out of Jersey from Sunday through Thursday when we were finally able to fly into Philadelphia-a 2 hour ride from home. The plan was to rent a car in Philadelphia rather than wait 3 more days to get a flight to New Jersey.
We picked up the car at Avis-a cherry red Jeep Cherokee. Gabriella told me she always wanted a Jeep Cherokee. To this day I still find it inconceivable that I’m the one who dragged her out of the closet.
After a week in Northern Michigan and a 5-day detour in Chicago while the storms pounded the East Coast, I was ready to put the pedal to the metal and get home. Well, I was ready for Gabriella to put the pedal to the metal. She enjoys driving. And I do not. With our phones at the ready, we mapped out directions and got on the highway. We still had to get to Newark airport to drop off the dyke-mobile and taxi it back to whatever was left of our house after Irene. If we didn’t hit traffic, we could make it home in time to throw the kids in the bath and throw some laundry in the wash (if we had water and power). Gabriella had other ideas.
Gabriella: So, what kind of sights should we see in Philadelphia?
Deborah: Funny. Benjamin sent me a text telling us we should try to catch an Eagles game. I told him I didn’t think hockey season had started.
G: Uh huh. Should we drive into the city and find a place for dinner?
D: Seriously? You don’t want to just pick something up along the way and get home?
G: Like fast food? We’re in Philadelphia! And, I’m up for an adventure.
D: But we’re on the highway already. And we don’t know where we are or where to go. We don’t know Philadelphia at all.
G: Grab my phone and get on Yelp. Look for a decent Italian place where the boys can have pasta.
D: Right now? While we’re driving, and we’re half way out of the city?
G: The city is right over there, see? Just look something up on Yelp.
D: Really? Do you not know me?!? Hello, my name is Deborah, and it’s so nice to meet you in your shiny Jeep Cherokee. I’d love for us to explore this relationship further, but there are a few things you should know about me. I am a planner. I love an adventure, but I love the kind you research carefully and anticipate all obstacles and execute seamlessly…a week in advance! One of my least favorite things to do is drive around a city I don’t know with no destination in mind with two small, tired and hungry children trying to “JUST LOOK SOMETHING UP” while on the move, on a cell phone without knowing if we’re going to end up driving up to a crack house on a forgotten road where no one will hear us screaming when some convict, who just broke out of the pokey, car jacks the shiny new Jeep Cherokee with our terrified children inside scraping at the windows yelling, “Mommy! Mom! Help us!!” because YOU were up for an adventure!
G: Would you like me to pull over?
D: If you don’t mind, thank you.
I don’t know about you, but if I don’t know where I’m going, I stop the car so that I can look at a map or make a phone call or plug an address into the GPS. Gabriella figures moving is better than not moving. I figure I could hurt her if I really tried, but then she might not be able to drive, and I’m a much better navigator than I am a driver.
We looked up a few restaurants, crosschecked their locations on the map from the rental car office to see if they looked sufficiently downtown-ish and agreed that we’d make our way into Philadelphia. I was still on edge, but a mile in, the city roads narrowed into neighborhoods, and the vacant diners morphed into boutiques, and I began to breathe.
Gabriella: Hey, look at that in front of us! Is that Benjamin Franklin on top of that building?
Deborah: That little needle of a thing on top of that tall building? You know, it’s always so difficult for me to recognize Benjamin Franklin from the back at this distance.
G: Come on, it’s that famous building. No, it’s not Benjamin Franklin. It’s William Penn. On the City Hall tower-that’s what it is.
D: Who are you?
G: It’s a well-known landmark. Look, we’re coming up to the restaurant. Isn’t it cute around here?
D: It’s not just cute, Gabriella, it’s completely G-A-Y! All the street signs have rainbows underneath them. You managed to find a gay-Philly! You must have the most incredible Gay-dar ever. Or maybe it’s the car. It must sense that it’s amongst its own.
We parked the car on 13th Street and made our way to Barbuzzo; a restaurant owned by lesbian lovers Valerie Safran and Chef Marcie Turney; information we learned after our server included post-card sized business card with our bill promoting the 6 businesses that Valerie and Marcie own on 13th Street.
Valerie Safran & Chef Marcie Turney
Back in New Jersey, I did my research and discovered that the pair had ostensibly repurposed 13th Street from a no-go to a go-gay part of Philly’s Gayborhood. And not only had we discovered a very tasty restaurant in a trendy gay part of town owned by two lady entrepreneurs, but we were there 2 days after Rachael Ray met and filmed our lady-friends at Barbuzzo, as well. Apparently, the show will air at the end of this month.
So everything fell into place. Gabriella quieted my travel anxieties and led us to an oasis in an unknown land. I pretended not to suffer from obsessive planning disorder and turned off the “I told you so” recording, which is always cued up and ready to play. And our cherry red Jeep Cherokee found its herd on 13th Street in Philadelphia. For the record, I’m the one who spotted the one parking space left in all of Philadelphia. I may be a reluctant adventurer and a nervous driver in unfamiliar towns, but I’m an excellent navigator. And that’s how we roll.