Slippers. Philadelphia, 2010
In 2010, I won two airline tickets to anywhere in the world through a competition at work. 100 words or fewer. What will the National Broadband Network do for our fair nation? Be creative. That was the instruction.
At the time I was working in a telecommunications company with a heap of engineers. I had to be in with a chance being the token airy-fairy-arty-fart and the engineers were well - engineers - the extroverts are the ones who look at your shoes when they talk to you.
My response to the competition can be found here. (I won another competition last night, but nothing as astounding as airline tickets - two movie passes for knowing that Bryce Courtney penned the tune of Louie the Fly (might be something about the comment that it was the only classic that he ever wrote that got me the tickets...)
One of the places that I found myself on this trip was Philadelphia in the United States. After a day in New York, swearing to come back so that I could enjoy the place without food poisoning,and after five great days with Reindert and Corazon in the relative gentility of Boston, I rocked up in Philly where my Aunt, Uncle and associated cousins live.
My uncle is my father's brother. He moved to the States over twenty-five years ago with his family. My uncle is a pilot and has a week on, week off schedule, so I was lucky to catch him when I was there. We spent my second day in Philly together having a look around the place and getting to know each other again. I remember my uncle taking me to the zoo when I was five years old, an my grandmother taking me out to the airport to see him fly around in his light planes. As he's lived most of my life in the states, we never got to spend much time together.
Regardless, on this day, we hung out - which was fabulous. We went to the Mutter Museum taking in the weird and wonderful exhibits, following which we went for a stroll around central Philadelphia. It seems my uncle and I have a similar fascination with the macabre.
I liked the streets of Philly with their rougher edge - a slight hint of danger, not knowing what was going to be found around the corner. It doesn't have the feel of apparent affluence found in New York and Boston. My family live in the Northern Suburbs near the New Jersey border which plays with the mind in oh so many ways. For this happy little vegemite it was a little confronting. I had landed in middle America, complete with shopping malls, pee wee football, mega-Churches, strip malls and Pro-Bush sensibilities.
Then you see things like this in the city. Downtown Philadelphia reminds me of the streets they showed on Sesame Street. Unexpected things coming out of basement windows. Red fire hydrants. People hanging about doing not very much. The recession has hit Philadelphia hard.
Of the photo. The juxtaposition of the slippers sitting outside a window appealed to me. Who put them there? Why were they there? How did they get out there? It wasn't like they were sitting outside an open window. Yet they appeared to belong there.
Stuff like this is why I love travelling so much.