My annual week of NAFSA conference work concluded last Friday - this year, in Philadelphia, whose gloomy weather and cobbled eighteenth-century streets gave a true feel of England. I have been to Philly once before, in 2004, for the massive MLA conference with Jason; we were in the Club Quarters in a room the size of a shoebox.
I stayed my first weekend in Cedar Park with my friend and colleague Liz, whose home looks like a set backdrop for Lemony Snicket. She had just been our guest in Firenze for the preceding week, and gamely retrieved me from the airport and whisked me off to buy some shoes for the week since my selection was skimpy and uncomfortable. We got our Ethiopian spice and injeera on at Gojjo - my fingers smelt of wat for days. Her turret guest bedroom looked out onto St. Frances de Sales, calm and hulking in the Philadelphia humidity.
|Liz's genteel home, channeling Thornton Wilder for reasons unknown to me. |
I spied on the street below from the top turret.
|St. Francis de Sales, seen from Liz's guest turret.|
|30th Street Station in Philadelphia, gleaming Art Deco insouciance.|
|St. Peter's Episcopal, Morristown NJ|
NAFSA is a ninety-hour workweek every year, and one I enjoy for its annual occurrence, because I could not do it with any greater frequency.
|Terra Dotta represent!|
GoAbroad awards reception, May 31.
The Creative People reception at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts museum. (I just love that NAFSA has a home for creative people of both professional and sidebar persuasion). They put on a calm, high-culture respite from the nuttiness of the expo hall just across the street, although I forgot to switch my Google map to "walking" from "driving" and so we took the extra-extra-long route. I giggled when one of the hosts informed me that the Academy was "so old!" as it was founded in 1805. Oh America, the innocence... I ran into a few people I knew, made a handful of new friends, and made one very shy videographer very uncomfortable with my well-meaning but possibly too-straightforward conversation (sorry shy guy) while a colleague who knows me well looked on and good-naturedly rolled his eyes. (In my defense, I was genuinely interested in what he was doing and how he got to be doing it, but understand that a person whose career has included screening documentary film submissions alone in a room for hours, for months, on end may not be the most prepared person to discuss much in public.)
The AIFS dinner aboard the Moshulu, moored in the Delaware River, was the ideal cap to the long week, summer night on the water in good company. Local colleagues filled us in about Camden town across the way ("full of hurt and pain"), and later, I bizarrely found myself in a minor dispute with an American late in the evening about whether or not the Oltrarno was, in fact, part of Firenze centro (Me: of course not. Him: pulls up map on his phone to press his point. Me: I know where the Arno is...) And now I just read the history of the ship, which includes Astoria Oregon, Bainbridge Island, and Finland, plus the history of the name, well, I like it even more ... I have the soul of a sailor, I swear. My heart thrills to the sea.
|Aye cap'n! I'll gladly be shanghaied onto the Moshulu!|
|Philly, you so pretty.|
Coming next: five dreamy hours in the Madrid airport where I explain why this travel and cultural connection rendered me so verklempt. And the Italian cultural adventures continue unabated -