Growing up, I used to spend hours in a particular section of Barnes & Noble (or Borders, R.I.P.) While my buddies would shuffle over to the magazine section or the Young Adult part of the store, I would park it in front of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy rows for hours on end. And I wasn’t there for space exploration or alien invaders. I came for the wizards and the dragons, the supernatural and the fairies.
I was in it for the magic.
And while most of the books on my shelf are now either textbooks or cookbooks, I still spend a lot of my free time trying to find the magic in everyday life. I have this idea that Philadelphia is basically a treasure trove of these little pockets of magic. Thursday, August 23rd, 2013, I found the biggest one yet.
Getting to that point was a little tougher, though. I was a true first-timer and everything that COULD go wrong did go wrong.
- I realized JUST HOW LONG it takes to curl my hair, and why I only do it once every two years or so.
- I bugged my mom all day that we needed to hurry up, and that she couldn’t forget anything. And then… I forgot my dress. My little brother, thank goodness, immediately got in a car and toted it up to Philly. And then dragged us to our drop off spot at 30th Street Station.
- I cut my hand on our table and had to be careful so as not to host my own bloody Dîner en Rouge. (Next year, pack bandaids.)
But we got to our meeting point at 30th Street Station. And, apparently, so did everyone else. Before we knew it, it was time to leave for Dîner. And unlike the folks who had to drag their accoutrements across town, we just had to walk through the train station, where we were greeted with the most incredible sight…
We shut down ten blocks of JFK Boulevard for the biggest pop-up dinner Philadelphia has ever seen.
My tiny miniature mother was my plus one, and looked beautiful en Blanc. And, I’ve gotta admit, the summer’s been pretty good to me. I cleaned up pretty nicely myself. (Spoiler alert: you’ve gotta allow me some vanity here, these are some of my favorite pictures I’ve ever seen of me.)
We went with a beach theme for our table (surprise surprise) and opted out of the catering options, instead choosing to put together our own picnic complete with salmon, lemon orzo salad, broccoli rabe, and macaroons/salt water taffy from Shriver’s.
After dinner was my favorite part. Traipsing around and seeing all the other Dîners, ogling incredible centerpieces, elegant outfits, and decadent dishes.
And also, a giant white cock.
As the sparklers lit up the night, and the DJ spun us well into the evening, I felt my heart swell with this enormous love for my city. The people who joined us at our section for dinner conversation and roll-sharing, the organizers who made the magic happen, the musicians who kept toes tapping, and the strangers who shared in this incredible experience.
I left with an extra twinkle in my eye, and a newfound dedication to discovering future pockets of magic in Philadelphia.
If you’ve got any you want to share, please don’t hesitate to invite me. I’m an excellent plus one, and I make a mean salmon picnic.