On July 27, 1990, Paul and I had our first date, and two months later he got transferred to Delaware. One month after that, I moved up with him. It was one of the most impulsive things I’ve ever done, and the decision I was most sure of.
We lived 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia for a year. The fact that we were so far from home and knew only each other is what we credit as the reason we survived our first year together. We would be in an argument and want to pack up and leave, but the realization that it was a 10 hour drive home was the impetus for us to work things out.
The area was super. We lived in a picturesque town on the water, and we were close to all kinds of historical sites. We visited the Dupont homeplace, Longwood Gardens, Valley Forge, Gettysburg, the Liberty Bell, and Independence Hall, the birthplace of both the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution.
I got a job with a software company while we lived there. It was a small start-up named after some lyrics from a Frank Zappa song, and some of the company's perks were tickets to the 76ers basketball games and Phillies baseball.
When going to the basketball games, we got to run up the steps that Rocky Balboa trained on in the movies, and with the Phillies we enjoyed the national pastime in the city that is America’s birthplace.
Philly is a tough city – I’m not actually sure where the “City of Brotherly Love” came from. It’s in the name, but it doesn’t seem to be an obvious characteristic. One day I was riding with my boss as we headed into the city center. As she slowed down she explained that she was trying to hit all the traffic lights green. She said sitting at a red light on this particular street was like asking to be carjacked. I couldn’t help but wonder if there were no other streets we could have taken?
Philly sports fans also have a reputation for being kind of harsh, so I was really surprised not long ago when I heard a sweet story about them.
In August 2023, the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team had a player named Trea Turner. He had played college baseball at NCSU and had gone on to do really well in the MLB. But at this point it’s fair to say he was in a slump. He couldn’t hit, couldn’t catch, was making errors left and right. Nobody was happy with him: not the people signing his check and not the fans. Until…
One day a radio producer hatched a plan and word got out. The idea was that when Turner came up to bat, instead of booing him, the fans would give him a standing ovation. Little did they know the magic they would bring, and the spell they would break.
Standing at the plate, Turner had to be confused at the lengthy standing ovation. But it worked, and he delivered. It was the beginning of his crawling out of his slump.
It makes me wonder how much more could be accomplished if we cheered each other on – even when it doesn’t make sense. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” It could also be cheering when there’s no reason to – yet.