2008 was an amazing year. Barak Obama was elected President, The Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series, and Michelle was my girlfriend. That’s a hat trick if there ever was one.
Michelle was one of several people who got laid off while the company we were working for was once again trying to figure out what it wanted to be. (Print going bankrupt again!) I remember the day it happened she went out and bought me an Ipod for my birthday. I was very grateful and it was a wonderful and thoughtful gift. I love music and I couldn’t believe how technology could put a thousand songs into something the size of a pack of gum. It’s pound for pound the best gift anyone has ever given me, and I don’t like presents. I’d always rather give that receive.
Michelle started working as a hostess at a local restaurant. She hated it because now she had to stand there and watch people do the very thing that she and I enjoyed doing. She also took a job at a local retail store here in center city. Looking back on that now, that had to be tough on her. She went from making good money at a dot.com to being on her feet all day and night and doing something she wasn’t even interested in. She did finally get a good gig with a great company. Better than when she worked with me at the publication. It was a non-profit that was at the forefront of organ donation. This job would serve her well and help catapult her into a great career in the future!
She was fed up with her bitch faced, passive aggressive roommate, and I think that chick was leaving when the lease was up anyway. I wanted to move to Philly and get out of living in Pennsauken, NJ. So with us being in love, we decided to get a place together. That normally had been the kiss of death for me, because I like my alone time. But we really got along and I figured we’d be alright.
We got a third floor two bedroom apartment in Graduate Hospital, which is the neighborhood just south of Rittenhouse. Penn Medicine now runs the hospital complex down there now, but people still call the neighborhood by its former name. It was a beautiful apartment. Everything was brand new. The instructions were still in the oven. It had all of the amenities. Michelle picked a two bedroom because my daughter Lorelei stayed with me every other weekend. She did a wonderful job of finding a home for us in Philly and I love her for that. We have so many great memories in that place.
I remember the night she showed me the apartment. The realtor was late. (He is a very powerful real estate mogul in the city today) We ended up going to Ten Stone, (A neighborhood bar at 20th and South) Michelle put it to me… “Are we doing this?”
We split the rent and the bills but eventually I think I paid the utilities and half the rent because I earned more. One thing I never took into account was that the reason we had to pay $1650 a month was for the second bedroom that was for my kid that visited twice a month. In hindsight I should have paid more of the rent back then and all of the utilities. Sadly, back then I was paying $600 a month in child support to the Gorgon sister I call my ex-wife. But Michelle was always on point with pulling her share. But I know I should have always paid more.
We moved all of our stuff from both apartments in one day. It was brutal. My whole body hurt for a week after that massive move. We did it all with a single U-haul van I rented for $100. Her building charged her $100 to use the elevator for the day to move. Fuckin’ exit fees.
We didn’t care. We got plowed at Continental midtown the night before, but we made it work. We got all of our shit moved in and it was in piles of boxes all over the living room. I think we went for pizza at Lorenzo’s that night to celebrate our new life together.
It was fun living together for the most part. The holidays were coming and my daughter Lorelei and I went out and got a tree and set it up in the living room. It was so funny. It was like a Norman Rockwell moment. Michelle was working and we wanted to surprise her. My daughter and I walked from 18th and Kater to 4th and South, (Which is a hike) to pick out a tree. We found a great bushy one and proceeded to carry it by hand all the way home. I only had one pair of gloves so I gave one to baby and I wore the other one. Lorelei carried the top, (Which was lighter) and I carried the trunk. We took breaks because it was heavy, and switched gloves. It smelled so good! Pine Christmas sap! I love that smell! People were coming out of their homes and taking pictures of me and my daughter carrying our christmas tree across the city. They were going mad about our Rockwell moment. I don’t know how Lorelei felt about it but as always, she was a trooper.
We all decorated it and it looked beautiful. Michelle had lots of great ornaments that either she or her mother used to stress about. I don’t remember why. Maybe because there was some holiday history in those ornaments. I remember later she really stressed about those ornaments. I know Michelle didn’t really give a shit because she’s like me, (no pageantry) but her mom did.
One of our favorite things to do was to sit on the loveseat in our living room and watch movies and different TV series on Netflix. Michelle’s mother had bought her a 50″ flat screen for Christmas and it was glorious. We would binge watch on the weekends. Just eat, drink wine and smoke cigarettes. Sometimes Michelle would bring out the inflatable mattress and stretch out on that on the floor. She loved that thing just to rest her beautiful body after a week of work.
Another thing we enjoyed was sitting at the kitchen counter, (resembled a bar) and we would listen to music and just chat and drink. Sometimes we’d bust out Scattergories and play that. Michelle being a former National Champion swimmer, was very competitive and didn’t like to lose. Things could get intense during those board game sessions. I actually remember her getting mad at me if I got a little far ahead. I always liked that about her. She had that champion spirit. I’d be sweet to her, but still liked whipping her ass in the game. But I never wanted girlfriend to be mad at me because I loved her so much.
On any given night you could catch us slow dancing in the living room to the sounds of Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, or Roy Orbison. It was a lovely time.
We were making so much noise one night our crazy neighbors downstairs were throwing pretzel bites over our balcony to get us turn it down! The bites were hitting the sliding glass doors, but I think secretly they wanted us to play more Johnny Mathis!
We didn’t go out and terrorize the city anymore. We watched the entire run of The Sopranos and all of Six Feet Under. I remember us both sobbing at the end of the final episode of Six Feet Under. We were both equally blown away by the show.
We even cried uncontrollably at Marley and Me. I don’t know why but we loved that movie together. (Watch it. Maybe you can explain it to me. We’re not pet owners)
It was New Years Eve, and we were just coming back from brunch, or something, and Michelle wanted to stop in a women’s apparel store called Couer. It’s on 17th around Sansom. We go in, and She’s looking at lingerie and what not and I’m just checking the place out. I get to the counter and they have this huge black and white photo. It’s a huge picture of a woman’s posterior in a thong, holding a fuzzy kitten backwards. So you see this cute cat’s face and her ass. I’m looking at it, and the photo seems familiar. It’s gorgeous and tasteful. Great ass and cute kitty.
Suddenly, I hear Michelle’s voice from behind me. “Is that MY ass?”
“Don’t we have an 8×10 of that photo from your modeling days somewhere in the apartment?”
“Oh my God! That’s me!!!”
We tell the person working there, and we all get a good laugh. We can’t believe that giant photo is there. It’s Michelle’s delicious bum from her days as a Reinhart model. The shoot was discussed, as was the kitten and the photographer.
“He’s still here.”
“Who the photographer?” I say, puzzled.
“No. This guy.” And another lady comes walking out from the back with a big old grumpy Persian cat in her arms.
“Holy crap! That’s the little kitten in the picture?”
“Yep. He’s like ten years old now.”
We were blown away and left laughing and saying how this New Years Eve was already getting crazy. It really seemed that everything we did or touched made something happen. (That’s what happens when two people are in love and the world is open to them)
So we were invited to join a former co-worker of ours to see the fireworks and grab food down at Penn’s Landing for New Years Eve. It was a bitter cold night. (We’re talking teens) It was impossible to get a taxi, and UBER and Lyft did not yet exist in Philadelphia. But I had an idea. We walked out to the corner and were trying to get a taxi, when the idea struck me. We were right near this place we always ordered pizza from. I saw one of the delivery guys and said hello. I told him I’d give him $20 if he’d drive us to Old City.
His response was, “Get in.”
We hop in the back of his pizza delivery car and off we go. He stops at a house nearby and delivers a pizza. It was surreal. Then we’re off again. He gets us to our destination. We thank him and out we go.
I think we were at the Mexican Post in Old City. We had probably been drinking before and we drank more when we got to the restaurant. It was nice to see my friend and his wife, but at that time I didn’t know any of the other people at the party. They were a bunch of IT and tech nerd types.
Just picture the creepy shy girl who looks like she could kill you in your sleep if you ate the last of her Ben & Jerry’s. Or the nerdy guy that has no table manners and chews with his mouth open. That’s just the result of some sort of parental neglect of some kind.
We finish up and head down to Penn’s Landing. It is really cold now on the Delaware River. The fireworks are great but all I can remember is the penetrating bone chilling cold. (And I’m sure Michelle feels the same)
Somehow we got a taxi back to midtown and actually went to the Midtown Diner on 18th Street. It was packed and I think I ate a cheese steak and fries. Michelle told me when she went to use the bathroom there was vomit everywhere so she used the Men’s room instead.
That’s what I hate about New Years and for that matter any other holiday where every swinging dick in the city is out drinking like they’re Duff McKagen in the 80’s. St.Patrick’s Day lasts like three weeks in this city. It makes me just want to leave the city for those weeks.
So there isn’t much to write here about this time. We were done with going out and getting loaded every night. No more crashed parties, no more crazy events. Even though we could sit down at anytime and reminisce about all of our deviltry, it would be for nostalgia’s sake. I think our domestic time together were some of our best times. We enjoyed each others company and some of our best memories have come from that calm tranquil period in our relationship.
I think Michelle would agree.
Michelle always said: “I have so much fun with you, that when the day is over, I wish we could do it all again.”
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