Traveling in Philadelphia
by Kadija Koita
Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia is building an expanded archive of cultural memory that includes multiple histories, re-place-ing the established with new narratives and understandings. Notes consider place via the street, sound, food, trees, and other portals.
In partnership with educator Joshua Block, students from Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy are creating and publishing their Philadelphia Field Notes. Kadija Koita explains her experiences in the city.
White, grey, and silver flashes through the breeze and makes the hair on my head stand. I can see the wigs on the old women flipping in the wind. I try not to laugh and just get on the El. The engines scream and holler making the tracks feel tired. So many different people. We don't notice where people are coming from and where people are going. The westbound side, which takes people to 69th is rushing fast, almost as if the train has somewhere else to be. The people have somewhere to be, that makes them become one with the train. Zooming fast, the train goes splashing against the rays of the sun.
“Can you hold that door!” One man yells as he scrunches to pass people without hitting people standing on the sides. You can hear the gum popping of the high school girls that laugh together. They always have on the weirdest uniform colors. I remember seeing one of the girls with this purplish, bluish color with red socks. They just get more creative every year. And then there's the boys. There are some that are tall and some that haven't caught up with puberty yet. They try and smile at the other girls that are down on the other side of the platform. Stories being told everywhere you go, you just have to look for them. Like that couple over there on the eastbound side, that are silently arguing, hoping they don't cause too much attention, but I see them. Or that single mother with three kids, who just wishes superman can come down and swoop her off her tired feet. Or the Septa conductor who wishes he could spend more time with his family every night. These are just a few of the faces I see and the silent stories that they tell.