A Long Overdue Love Letter / by Naima Lowe

Dear Philadelphia, I have been trying to come up with a way to write you this letter for a long time, and it has been hard. We were together for 6 years, and I loved you. But towards the end, Philadelphia, things got rough, and I had to leave. But I didn’t want to write you this letter while I was still angry with you. I didn’t want to bad mouth you in public, and I wanted you to know that I don’t blame you for it. You’ve had a hard lot in life, but I respect you because you are resilient, strong, warm and loving to many. I am so lucky to have known you. There is a lot about you to love, and there is a lot that I miss.

So this a love letter from me, written to you from the kitchen table of my very new and different life in a small town in the Pacific Northwest.

Thank you Philadelphia.

You gave me a beautiful, huge cheap apartment to live in.

You gave me film.

You gave me many crazed and debaucherous nights with some of the funnest, silliest, queerest, wildest people I know.

You gave me confidence in my body, my brown skin, my big hair and my big mouth.

You gave me loud, tough women.

You gave me sweet, tender men.

You gave me more brown and yellow and black people than I’ve ever seen altogether on this side of the Atlantic.

You gave me music in the streets all the time everywhere.

You gave me rolling hills running through the middle of a big city.

You gave me black cowboys riding through North Philly.

You gave me water ice, custard, greasy pizza, Dominican take-out, Amish baked goods, funnel cake, Stewart’s Root Beer and Fink’s Hoagies.

You gave me the Atlantic Ocean warm enough to fall asleep in.

You gave me my first love.

You gave me some of the best friends I’ve ever had.

You radicalized me.

You taught me how to stand up for myself.

You showed me how to stick to my guns.

You made me fight for my health.

You forced me to understand what I need and want out of the world.

I am so grateful to you Philadelphia, and I’m so glad that you’re there taking care of so many of the world’s toughest, strongest, fiercest people.

Yours very truly,