Because of chance overlap of several things (both good and not so good), I went back to Philadelphia for a quick weekend. The biggest reason was that friends from my university days were going to get together for a mini reunion. Our plans were to barbecue on Saturday night at Victor's house but some of the group met for a warm up Friday night at Barcade, which is in the up-and-coming Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia just north of Center City.
Barcade's old wood-and-brick industrial building could easily be converted into a country-and-western bar by just changing the music and throwing some straw on the floor. But in this case, the bar appeals to the early-20s hipsters who either live in the neighborhood or wish they lived there instead of with their parents. Inside, they have a bar with about 20 beers on tap and a whole collection of 1980s video game machines. I saw classics like Donkey Kong among the machines.
We only hung out there for about an hour before going to a smoke-filled biker bar down the street. I wasn't as crazy about that place because there were fewer patrons to people watch and it's one of the rare bars that still allows smoking. Regardless, it was fun to hang out with friends, some of whom I haven't seen in over 20 years. The photo below shows us in the early 90s when the group we founded became officially recognized. I'm one of the three people holding the flag (right side):
Saturday night we met and hung out, ate, drank, and caught up. It was so much fun and so amazing to be back with this group of good friends. The photo below shows eleven of us as we look today:
On the way home from the barbecue, some of the party people went to the Frankford House in the same Northern Liberties neighborhood. The bar has a large German-style outdoor beer garden complete with heaters and fire pits. It's a really nice place and somewhat upscale, especially for the neighborhood. It wasn't until a couple of days later that I learned that it had been created by one of Philadelphia's restaurant magnates, which explained why it seemed so upscale. It's hard to tell in this tiny cellphone photo, but it was f'n cold outside. The whole time we were hanging out, I couldn't believe that we were sitting outside in Philadelphia in January...
Something that I knew before but really came back into focus for me over the weekend is that life is both fragile and short. As I sat and talked with my friends, I couldn't believe how short 20 years looks in the rear-view mirror. Life goes by really fast. The other thing is that we never know what's going to happen to us or the world around us. We (I) need to make sure to continue to try to live each and every day like it could be our last because, as Steve Jobs said in the now-famous Stanford commencement speech, (I've paraphrased it here) "someday it certainly will be".
I'm recommitting to myself to live an amazing life -- to live each day like it's my last. I do it for those who are unable to and for those who have chosen not to.
Oh, and to my friends, muchas gracias and let's not wait another 20 years.