Four school years, four addresses; but alas, all became My Temple Window, through which I saw so much.
What madness does the city behold, any city, every city; but this one was my city, for a time. Philadelphia from January of 2014 until July of 2017, The City of Brotherly Love as is professed by a whisper of the past. I attended six semesters of school here at Temple University over the course of four school years, starting in the latter half of one school year, and finishing in the earlier half of another. Each school year found me in a different home, each having its own unique way of finding the madness contained in the city and surfacing it to full view in front of my window.
First Temple Window
The first home I was in, for only a few months, was a dorm room on Norris Street. This was my introduction into living in the city, living at a college, and was my second experience living away from home. I did come home one night to my roommate, on the ground, passed out in a pile of his own vomit. I called the RA on duty, who subsequently called for medical help. He was up and talking before they arrived, although they insisted that he come with them to get further checked out; he was then mad at me for having done that. This was several months before I had ever engaged in the devil’s nectar, so it was a rather intense thing to come home from studying to. From my window itself, there was not a great view, save but the seldom-used courtyard below and a bit of the street. I heard and saw many sirens from my First Temple Window, and it was during this time that I realized a most hilarious and frequented honking pattern among the many frustrated, local drivers. It was a honk…hoooonk pattern, consisting of two consecutive honks, the first being quick and the second being held out for a few seconds. This sound reverberated through the distances of my many Temple windows, as well as when I was simply walking about on and around campus. I also witnessed toddlers doing headstands on the subway while their dad and siblings danced and clapped, drivers honking angrily at me and even stopping to get out before I evaded by biking down a one-way street, and someone standing for tens of minutes over a random group of strangers while occasionally joining into their conversation though she knew none of them; but alas, these were not viewed through My Temple Window!
Second Temple Window
My Second Temple Window came with my first off-campus apartment on 15th Street. I had a bedroom window, but it only looked out into a small narrow grassy area between my building and a barbed-wire fence; it honestly looked like a small prison courtyard. I had one roommate who had his own room, and for the latter half of the year, unbeknownst to me, came a second roommate with whom I shared a bedroom. Our living room, however, had two large windows, and as we were the first floor, we were only a few feet above street-level, making our living room easy to see in and out of. It was here where first came the plague of Mr. Softee, the wretched ice cream truck. No matter what time I tried to take a nap, he would always lurk; sitting, waiting, scheming. I often enjoyed quick naps in the living room at various times in the afternoon after classes, and always he would come just at that time, where he was permitted to park feet from my window, and would blast the ten second jingle of his siren repeatedly for his entire stay, which was often at least a half of an hour. This plague carried over to my next two apartments too, as apparently all three bore nearby locations for him to park. At this Second Temple Window, though, once came something I could not believe. I was so tired, in the early stages of an after-classes nap, when he came, sirens blaring. Soon though came a second Mr. Softee truck parked right near him, diagonally across the street. The very worst part of this was that his siren was also blaring, but it was not in sync with the first one, so I had to listen to two different sirens going off at different times. “Hell”, thought I, “has reached us here on Earth.”
Once from this 15th Street apartment I witnessed a local man getting arrested. Not simply arrested into a police car, but was detained by several officers and placed into the back of a large, black police van. This raised my suspicions as to the severity of his crimes as well as his potentially dangerous nature. The road was blocked off by several regular police cars in front of and behind the van. During my time by the First Temple Window, within a week, I witnessed the entirety of the library building evacuated for a bomb threat, helicopters circling above, which turned out to be a science project left briefly unattended. That same week came another bomb threat in an on-campus hotel, which turned out to be nothing more than a movie prop left by film students; a fake grenade. During my first few months on 15th Street I witnessed a bird fly right in front of me into the glass of the library, and die in my hand. It was quite sad and was all but a pleasant way to begin a chilly day; but alas, these last few things were not seen through the lens of My Temple Window, I digress!
Another time I witnessed a rap battle, not more than a foot from my window. On the sidewalk there formed a circle of young people, and I began to hear the roars and chants of a rap battle. During the time that I peeped through the blinds at it, I saw the most hilarious of things. The circle consisted entirely of black kids, except for one Asian kid who was the one rapping. Based on the fact that rap is much more common among blacks than Asians, I found this ironically hilarious; may my sense of humor offend none, and may you share in a laugh with me. Let us at least compromise with indifference.
The people in the apartments above me often threw parties, and so their many lovely and classy guests would often hold themselves to the highest of public standards on the sidewalk outside. One such example is of a happy young couple. They were arguing, and both the male and female were getting physical with each other, as they worked their way across the small, one-way street to the other side on the sidewalk. They continued to fight, until an older local woman driving by got out of her car to yell, at the guy mainly, and to break up the scuffle. Some would film while shouting “World Star!”, some would film while shouting “Jerry! Jerry!”, but I filmed in silence, as I recall.
Another similar display of their honorable guests was this one big guy who seemed to be in a pre-official, flirtatious relationship with Gravity, as he kept hooking up with and holding Gravity and then pulling himself back off. He was trying quite desperately to make it up the three-step staircase leading into the building, but was having as much trouble as a fly finding its way out of a half-opened window. He almost knocked several of his friends over, and as I recall began to scuffle with one of them, which led him to again finding himself in the arms of Gravity. His friend got on top of him on the ground to restrain the intoxication brewing in his mind that was causing him to lash out. He never did make it up the staircase, and eventually walked off with his friends.
There was one instance where I saw two local women having a fight directly across the street, in which their fists were flying as fast as their mouths. This fight was just outside of Jimmy John’s, which I could see from my window, although I only went there once the whole time I lived there. The next year, however, I got a job there doing bike deliveries which I did for a year. During that time, on the job, I witnessed several more fights among locals. One in particular was hilarious in which these two women, each easily 300 pounds, were fighting. The larger one slammed the less large one into one of those metal, garage-like doors that cover the entrance to businesses in bad areas when they are closed, and they continued to fight. I witnessed and attempted to film a second, similar fight within a few days. I one time too was coming back from a delivery and an intoxicated local woman walking in the road weaved further into the road as I passed by and I almost hit her, and as I went by she screamed at me something along the lines of, “I’ll sue you you rich piece of shit!” That is not verbatim, but close to what she said. I found this particularly funny because I was currently out doing bicycle deliveries through the hood in the middle of the night, and somehow, she thought that I was rich. Another time on the job I witnessed a kid fall off of a porch maybe ten feet up, quickly bounce up to his feet, and jump on the roof of a parked car; I may have slept on a boat and thrown up on it in the haze of intoxication, but at least I had the decency to take my shoes off when I did so! And I left my shoes there in fact…with my keys…but alas! I do sincerely apologize for the tangents that I am so easily compelled to be taken by, leading the story astray from the window.
I would occasionally have people knock on my window, seeing as how it was so low to the ground, but that was only to be expected in such a place. Similar to the rap battle, once just inches from my window was a group of black women who were singing in harmony, probably drunk, for several minutes. In hindsight I realize that I should have opened the window and joined in with them, but alas. The last of the significant things I saw from my Second Temple Window was a character nicknamed Flipper. Flipper was a local man, who I presume was homeless, and who was most certainly an alcoholic, as he was always carrying a drink inside of a brown paper bag. His gimmick was that he would fake-befriend people, and tell them above how he could do a backflip off a porch or staircase. He was seen all over the area doing this off of many-a-stoop. He did so multiple times off of my staircase, and would subsequently request one dollar from each viewer, and the drunken students who would encourage him, humored by his madness, would often oblige his financial requests. During my time here on 15th Street a student was shot on one such stoop waiting to get into a party and foolishly fighting back an armed robber. He survived, but it was nevertheless scary as this happened just a few blocks from my apartment; but alas, I did not see this!
Third Temple Window
My third Philadelphia home and my second off-campus apartment found me on the corner of 18th and Berks Streets. This apartment was a studio in which I lived alone and was not on the first floor as was the 15th Street apartment, but was on the basement level, so my window was from a low-down view of the sidewalk right up above; nevertheless though, I saw and heard much worth sharing! One such event that I saw was what I presumed to be the filming of a rap music video. There was a large group of at least ten guys standing in the middle of the street, some dancing and others standing around. They were very loud, and as there was a camera, I assumed that it was a music video; perhaps somewhere in the depths of the internet is held the secrets behind the event. I witnessed another music video being filmed by City Hall one time as well. Another recurring event here was Flipper, who I witnessed flipping multiple times off of my stoop and those of the apartment buildings near mine.
I often had my window open in this small, scorching apartment, and one such time allowed me to hear a curious rattling sound. It turned out to be the rattling of my own bicycle, which was locked to the railing along the sidewalk that separated the sidewalk from my personal staircase down to my unit that ran perpendicularly underneath the main entrance staircase. The people rattling my bicycle were two miniature local children, and with the upmost sincerity, I can honestly guess that the older one was no more than six. I was both frustrated and deeply saddened that kids that young had been taught to steal. For you see, I had already had my previous bike stolen from my work while I was at work where I did bike deliveries; local kids would lurk outside of Jimmy John’s where I worked and wait for us to slip up and leave our bikes both unlocked and unattended. Many coworkers had theirs stolen as well, and one co-worker was even mugged at gunpoint a week before I started, and another hit by a car. I also, at my next apartment, had a tire stolen from my newest bike, eight blocks from this apartment. But alas! I knew those kids were rattling my bike to see if it was able to be stolen, so I raised my voice and shouted “Hey!” to scare them off, which sent them off, but I dare not say that it scared them any.
I often saw and heard the horrors of the drug addict woman who lived across the street from me, who often sat on her stoop and shouted as loudly and angrily as possible, often times with English so broken I could hardly make out the words, and always I’m assuming about nothing important. It often seemed she was talking to nobody. The local people were frequently loud and angry, while the students were often loud and obnoxious, both sides often being drunk, making the clashing of cultures in the busy off-campus neighborhoods by the school a chaotic, loud, litter-ridden wasteland. The apartment across the street almost always had its door opened, a subtle invite to the world around it. My own apartment got a few unexpected visitors of its own.
There were two different cats that I saw from my Third Temple Window; well, I saw many more, but two in particular. The first, who I believe lived in the place across the street with open doors, came by and let me pet him often. I even let him inside of my apartment one time, and he did a lap and looked around and then headed back outside. He was a pretty, black and white fellow. The other, who I only saw once, I found sitting on my stairs, whining as I have never heart a cat whine before. he was a feeble, small white kitten. I gave him some food and milk and petted him to comfort him. He wouldn’t come into my apartment, but I at least fed him. I saw some racoons digging through a trash can atop of my steps once, and they came awfully close to my apartment. A different time, walking down the sidewalk nearby, a big racoon jumped out right in front of me and scared the cleanliness from my britches. I also had people visitors too. I saw during a Halloween party at my apartment, one for a selected group of close friends, a few strangers come down the stairs and waltz into my apartment. They were girls, the type who found themselves to be attractive enough where they thought that they could get away with anything, but as myself and most other guys at the party were in relationships at the time, we promptly told them to leave. My friend Pete was even gracious enough to tell them to, “get the fuck out of here!”
I keep a running list of quotes which I text to myself, of funny or interesting things that friends, family, or strangers say that I overhear. A few were taken during my Temple duration. One, which came through this window, was while I was just sitting down to dinner by myself, when I heard right outside of my window from a local man, “What the fuck you think I am a knucklehead, nigga? Come on with that bullshit.” The best part of this is undoubtedly his use of the word “knucklehead” in a serious tone. Another such quote, which I overheard while making a sandwich delivery, was as such. Four local women were on the street. A shouts across the street to C and D, “WHERE BIG LAURA?” To which B (presumably Big Laura) responds, out of the blue and on the same side of the street as A, “HEEEEERE!” I was losing it after this, while fervently typing out the quote of it all. Another came from my Third Temple Window, where I heard my neighbor from another building loudly shout, “If you lick my butthole you get some ravioli!” A true gentleman.
On a similar occasion as the one in which the girls came waltzing into my apartment like they were invited, I was sitting alone in my apartment with my, at the time, recently acquainted friend Alex, after several other friends had left earlier in the night. It was just after three in the morning, when I looked out of the window only to see a man walking down my staircase that led to only my apartment. The door was open due to the heat, and he walked right the fuck in and instead of asking if he could use my bathroom, he asked, “Do you have a restroom?” I thought that this was an odd choice of phrases, as I have personally never been inside of an apartment that didn’t have one. Nevertheless, I told him that no, I do not have one, and so despite the fact that my bathroom could be seen from where he was standing, he left. Perhaps the most puzzling part, was the question of who this man was; he did not even appear to be intoxicated. It was 3:00am, and by the look of him, he was far too old to be a student that lived in a nearby off-campus apartment, but at the same time he in no way fit the demographic of being a local resident; he seemed so unbelievably out of place that it had us puzzled. Plus, to be bluntly honest, if you really had to use the bathroom there were more dark allies and covered spaces in the nearby area than I would have cared to count. A few weeks after this I encountered an equally as deranged individual. Alex, our friends Kali, Vincent, and I were getting some late-night pizza while a group of friends remained at my apartment lost in deep drunken conversation, and on the way home at 2:00am we walked past the school sports track. There was one, lone Asian man on the track. Every twenty seconds or so he would scream at the top of his lungs, like a John Lennon scream therapy session, or a battle cry. He was pacing back and forth, adding to the horror of the scene.
On a different occasion, my friends Pete, Josh, Laura (unfortunately, not Big Laura from the earlier story), and I were walking to 7/11 for what I am sure was unnecessary chasers for our drinks that night. I was quite drunk, and as I recall I was wearing a blond wig that I had used not long before for a Halloween costume as a busty princess. As we were walking down a busy road, we head what sounded like gunshots not far from us and then saw, within seconds, two police cars whip into the road across from us and stop. They suspected that it was a drive-by shooting. Josh must have been enamored by this, for the next year he got an apartment right in that area. In this same night, after Laura had left, Josh had big cigars for Pete and I, which I hardly could stomach unfortunately. As we stood outside on my staircase and smoked them, a homeless man made his less than humble way over to us and straight up asked for money. He asked where Josh lived, and had the audacity to ask for money, even suggesting that we walk clear across campus to Josh’s building so that he could wait outside while Josh ran in and got money for him. I told him a fourth fried of ours lived inside but was not answering the door, so none of us lived in the building, and waited until he left in defeat before going back inside. Oh, how you always find a way to outdo yourself, ridiculousness.
My neighbors were lovely here, and many of the apartments on my block as well as those nearby threw parties often, so the many guests would walk by frequently. One such demographic of these guests were the girls who would wear skirts so short, and shirts so small, that it made me cold to just look at them in the dead of winter when it was below twenty degrees and half of their rear-end was peek-a-booing down below the bottom of their skirt. Their tiny arms would be wrapped around them as they looked down eye the clumps of snow that they’d be dodging in their high heels. I often pitied the fathers who paid tens of thousands for them to be here, deliberately catching colds, in an effort to see who could dress most provocatively. Occasionally, I would hear my neighbors yelling at each other. One such time they were in a heated argument, and some guys across the street were trying to get one guy to come down from his second-floor apartment and fight them. I do not think that any of these tough guys ended up brawling.
Perhaps best though was when my neighbors lit a large fire in the middle of the street, during which time the street was filled up with people and police cars and officers alike. I believe the source of the mob-like behavior was an agreed upon desire to fornicate with another university, as so they would often shout, “Fuck Penn State!” Yes, our rival in sports apparently, and after our football players played theirs, our students got riled up and decided to start a fire in the street and scream and shout obscenities. Nothing impresses a girl more than who can speak loudest, who can litter more beer cans, and who can express original deep thoughts like, “Fuck Penn State!” more frequently; leastways that is how it is with these below-twenty-degrees-girls. Such is the culture of typical white college kids.
Mr. Softee had a spot near the corner that I lived by, and would harass me during my naps here as well. His timing was impeccable, as he always knew when to best disturb my naps. Much like him, for more than half of the time that I lived here from December through May, there were various construction projects happening right on the corner of 18th and Berks outside of my window. As I mentioned, the apartment got very hot sometimes, and the heat was controlled by the landlord and not by each unit, so I would have my window and door open on nights when the heat would be blasted. One such morning I was sweating so much from the heat that I opened my window and door, despite the loudness of the construction. This worked for a time, until my soul was shaken from my flesh like the coming of the rapture. A fucking jackhammer; a jackhammer began to chew through cement not more than ten feet from my open window. Even with it closed, which made the heat unbearable, the jack-hammer still rumbled the very structure of my walls. My neighbors above me here too were elephants, just like those on 15th Street, making their morning routine a stampede of displeasure.
The last peculiar thing to occur here, my Third Temple Window, was when my apartment nearly flooded. Well, one time a pipe burst beneath the street at the intersection and water was gushing out from in the street like a small river and was rushing down for over a block, and began to come down my staircase, but this time was due to weather not a leak so there was no way to prevent it. I was out doing bike deliveries, and had to bike by my own apartment, downstream from the river. But on another, more interesting night I was watching my favorite show Game of Thrones late at night in the dark with two of my dearest friends at school, Kali and Vincent, both of whom I helped get addicted to the show. The rain was amazing to watch outside of the window, as it was coming down harder than I had ever seen it come down in Philly. At the bottom of my staircase was a small drain, but it did not work very well, if at all. The water was flushing down the staircase and was filling up the area by the drain that sat just a few inches below the threshold of my doorway. The water level was rising, yet the rain was not stopping. We watched from the window, until finally Vincent and I grabbed large plastic bowls that I had for popcorn and the sort, and we began to bail out the drain, taking scoops of the water out and putting them into the drain of my tub as to prevent my apartment from flooding. it never did flood, but it was so close. I suppose this could happen anywhere; but alas, it happened just beyond my Third Temple Window.
Fourth Temple Window
This window was dear to me. Before it, I held in my heart some of my brightest and some of my darkest emotions. My love used to sit atop of the sill and look out for minutes, hours, what for to me felt like a lifetime, getting lost in the endlessness of her eyes and her overall cuteness; but alas, the focus here is on the window itself. This apartment, which I shared with the aforementioned Alex, though hardly so since he was seldom there, I shared it more so with myself and then with my love for many months, and it was located on 10th and Berks Streets. You can probably guess who it is who often bothered me here, ruining the likeliness of many-a-nap for me; as you guessed, Mr. Softee. He would often park just below my window and a few yards up the street. Additionally, though, here loitered other types of ice cream and similar desert trucks, some having different jingles; yet always equally as irritating they remained. One truck had several changing popular songs, including “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” and others, but played with the awful siren that those trucks embrace. Perhaps, once I inadvertently insulted Mr. Softee himself, leaving me to face his wrath through his minions for many manipulative years to come; no matter where I went, they found me. This apartment was on the third floor, but as the ceilings were close to twenty feet high, it was really more the height of a sixth floor. Still, though, the jingles found me.
One thing that came to me through my Fourth Temple Window, and perhaps my fourth temple ceiling as well, was the sounds of a fucking drum circle. On multiple occasions I complained to my love of what sounded like a drum circle coming from what I thought was the apartment above me; not for a little while, but for hours. On one of these days she was with me later that night, many hours later, and began to hear it herself; it was still going on. I often heard my next-door neighbors here through the walls, and as I could tell one was a parent and would talk to his son on the phone. Occasionally, I would hear a kid there wailing, just on the other side of the wall from my bed. My love and I in bed once heard him on the phone with his child talking about SpongeBob, and he did a raspy-voiced impression of Gary, saying, “Me-ooooow!” It was hilarious; but alas! The window!
I often here saw helicopters circling through the air, or remaining stationary in certain spots for upwards of an hour at a time, sometimes as many as three or four of them. This was often evident that they were keeping their eyes out for a fleeing criminal, which is a crazy thought. All this while, since my first semester in the dorm, I had been signed up for the text and email alerts from the school for when the campus police department was responding to a serious, and potentially dangerous incident. Surprisingly, Temple has the second largest police department in the entire state of Pennsylvania, second only to the city of Philadelphia…where it is located! I one time noticed several police cars outside of my window on Berks Street, responding to some sort of incident. I put a picture or video onto my Snapchat story saying, “I think someone got mugged.” Shortly thereafter I received an alert saying that there was an armed robbery at 9th and Berks Streets, which was just on the other side of my building, so that made sense and my assumption was correct. One time during my duration with this window while out getting food with some friends, we witnessed more collective police cars in one spot than we had ever encountered in the area, tens of officers, and without evident reason. We later learned that gangs of local “youths”, meaning pre-teens and teenagers, were walking around, nearly two hundred of them in smaller groups, causing mayhem and attacking several students. One even punched a police horse, an action that was equally as unnecessary as is the concept of a police horse. Later that night, from my friend Josh’s Temple window we witnessed police activity, as some officers were confronting some of the youths.
A different time I saw a funeral procession, which was very cool actually. The line of cars weaved through the project that sat diagonally from my building at the intersection, and they came down the hill of Berks Street and past my building. There were probably fifty cars all in a row, including a hearse, and if I recall correctly they were honking and playing music. Despite it being a funeral procession, it seemed as though they were making light of the situation and turning it into a positive event, which was refreshing to see, particularly on such a sunny Sunday as that. Often, I heard the voices of many people, as many local residents worked on the first floor of the building, and would have meetings once or twice a week. They spoke so unrealistically loudly that I often thought that arguments were ensuing, and out of overwhelming curiosity as to witnessing the disputes of strangers, I would head to the window for an aerial view. They were never arguing, however, only conversing, but they spoke so loudly, shouting really, and would often have conversations from across the street that would result in raspy cackles and hoarse retorts. Sometimes these meetings were held very early in the morning, so if by chance I was asleep on the couch in the living room, I would be woken right up, particularly if the window was open. So, this Fourth Temple Window was enormous; it was almost an entire wall. it started from above three feet up, and ran the rest of the way to the high ceiling, but only a small maybe two by two-foot actual window opened. But, there was a ledge that sat at the top of where the wall turned into the window behind my couch and it made for some nice sitting and watching; watching the birds, or the people, or the trains on the tracks, or just the weather. That love of mine always sat up there, knees pressed into her chest, arms holding her legs, folded up like a bean with her eyes looking out over the world.
One of the scariest things that I had ever witnessed took place from my Fourth Temple Window. I heard what sounded like female screams, and on a Saturday night on a college campus, I was all but worried. Soon though, the screams seemed more terrified than excited, and I thought perhaps it was an argument between a boyfriend and girlfriend, perhaps he was scaring her or God-forbid hitting her, so I opened my window to look for them in the streets. What I instead saw was quite shocking. As I said, each apartment is above two floors in height. In an apartment one over and two above mine (from what I could tell), dangling out of the window, was a boy about my age. That means the fifth floor, which is about ten stories up; more than high enough to take a life. I heard at least one girl in the apartment screaming for him to come inside, I think his name was Matt, and yelling that she loved him. From what I gathered, she either broke up with him or had cheated on him, perhaps more likely the latter, and perhaps alcohol and/or drugs were involved; nevertheless, the poor kid was dangling from the window, shirtless. His body was half inside, but then he dropped out all the way. Once he had a grip here, he began putting his legs on the building while bending his knees, as one would when pushing off from a height into water. He was taunting with the idea of letting go it seemed from this motion. People in the street were watching in horror, as was I halfway out of my window. One or two times I shouted, “get back inside!” because what more could I have done? I was going to call 911, but a Temple Police office was already down on the sidewalk. One local man watching from across the street was laughing at the situation, as though it was just some drunk shenanigans and not a life on the line. I felt bad for him, that he was feeling emotions steep enough to cause him to want to die. I hope that he is okay now. The only two times I ever called 911 in my life were in Philly. I did once when I was biking home from work and saw three kids about thirteen or so ganging up on a fourth about the same age, punching him while he was pinned against the fence. When I looked back after biking by, I noticed him on the ground being kicked. I did not intervene, as in this area, who knows what those kids are capable of, or who they might know or be affiliated with who have weapons, so I biked across the street and called. A second time I was looking to my right while out on a bike delivery, and suddenly I heard the loudest sound that I had ever heard, and looked up to see the skidding around of two cars that had just hit head-on due to one running a red light. So, I tried immediately to call for help, but 911 was busy when I called…allow that to sink in. 911 was busy and didn’t answer the phone. I had to, right afterwards, instead call the Temple Police Department. All involved in the crash were okay; but alas! Matt of the window! Eventually, Matt climbed his way back up into the apartment and I did not have to witness the poor boy falling to what beyond any doubt would have been his untimely death, and just then the firetrucks came with ladders.
Perhaps one of the funniest and most fucked up of all things came from this window. One of my best friends, Devin, was coming to visit me, his first time ever in Philly (though surprisingly he came back twice more for visits of Mario Kart 64, cheesesteaks, and beers). He had been there for less than twelve hours when we woke up in the morning and decided to head out for lunch. We looked outside of my Fourth Temple Window and saw a chaotic car accident that we must have just missed. A large car was on its side, and there were more cops about than we could count. A chill ran down Devin’s spine as he realized that that was the same block and side of 10th Street that he had parked on, but we were pretty sure his car was parked further back. Nevertheless, we stopped by just to check on our way to lunch. As it turned out, his car was indeed very damaged by the mini-van, so the scene we saw from the window did in fact involve his poor Camry. This mother of at least the two children that she had with her who were injured in the crash had managed, in less than a one block on a small, narrow, one-way road lined with parked cars on both sides, to gain enough speed shortly after a stop sign and shortly before another to damage four cars, two on each side of the road, while also flipping her own mini-van entirely onto its side, spewing the contents onto the street. Devin’s car took a solid blow to the rear right, and we spent a few hours talking to the nineteen police officers there (from my own count), and he also spent time on the phone with his mother and insurance company. Fortunately, after it was all said and done, the car was still drivable in that condition and got us home safely to Cape Cod for Thanksgiving, but unfortunately, it ended up in the shop without a rental replacement for more than a month. I meant to get him a toy Camry for Christmas as a placeholder (and mainly to be an asshole), but luckily for him it had slipped my mind by that time. I told him that his car would be safe parked where it was, negligently forgetting to warn him of Philly’s flying mini-van problem. Somehow, he was willing to come back and park in the same place two more times. I never witnessed an actual car crash from that window, but I did witness several near-collisions.
On one of my very last days in this apartment, I heard an all too familiar sound. For eight months to the day I had dated my love and told her about the honk…hoooonk! phenomenon, which had been witnessed by several of my friends in the preceding years, but she never once witnessed that exact honking pattern for herself. A few days after her heart bid mine ado, and subsequently just a few days before I left the city, and just a few moments after I had woken up in the morning on the couch, I heard a “honk…hoooonk!”
Philadelphia is an interesting city; not the loveliest nor the most exciting nor the safest, but it is always interesting, for better and worse. Temple provides a unique atmosphere, clashing the two vastly different cultures of impoverished locals and carefree students, which together cultivate the madness of the off-campus culture of the Temple University area. These are only some of my many unimaginable experiences in the area, not including the extreme religious hate groups, the students standing in opposition to said extremists who actually help to fuel the fire with them, the crazies inhabiting the subway, protesters in the streets, a homeless man who trips while exiting our student center right in front of a few girls who gets up immediately and laughs loudly in their face to the point I referred to him then on in stories as Trips n’ Cackles, many drunken shenanigans, and some strange things like a middle-aged man who bikes around making eye contact while pressing a squeaky horn that he has attached to his bike. This memoir was an idea that lingered within my mind hypothetically for years, as there were so many things that I witnessed through the glass of My Temple Window that I would never ever have had the chance to see on the quaintness of Cape Cod from which I derive. I am sure that some memories have slipped through the cracks of my racing mind, but may this compilation of stories, if nothing else, and like the favorite pastime of every couple on House Hunters, entertain.
If ever you get the chance, and if so often you forget to do so, take a look outside of your window. You never know what you might witness, what characters you might see, what tomfoolery you might catch in the act, what tragedies or festivities might be waiting around the bend, and what memories it might create for you. My Temple Window, in its multiple locations over its multiple years, like the changing pixels of a television screen, broadcasted to me the fascinations of this unpredictable and crazy life. Sit, if you have but a moment, on your window sill with your knees tucked into your chest and your hands holding your legs, and gaze out at the world exhaling and breathing its life like the fog from breath onto the outside of your wonderful window. Or, if you dare, open up your window, let the world in, and become a part of its ever-flowing madness.