Life

What a decade it’s been already! This isn’t going to be in depth, but here’s what I’ve been up to lately.

SOCIAL

Ryan and I joined a social bowling league. It was just for fun, but once we started playing, our competitive sides came out 😃 I’ve been watching tons of YouTube videos and trying not to suck.

We spent our Valentine’s day practicing so we wouldn’t embarrass ourselves at the next game

I’ve made a couple of friends in Philly, which is progress!

After a series of unfortunate events, we had to stage an intervention with our friend about her drinking problem. That was tough, but necessary. She’s been having a hard time in life, and trying to help her sort things out was starting to affect me. So I’m trying my best to be supportive but also keep a healthy emotional distance from the drama.

WORK

I got laid off at the end of January. I’m totally fine. I’ve been coding for fun again, which has been great.

HOUSE

Oh, we got solar installed. We now have roof access! The roof is unfinished but usable. Looking forward to hanging out up there once the weather warms up.

Hatch access to the roof
20 solar panels of POWER
View of downtown Philly

WHAT ELSE… OH YEAH CAT

As I detailed in my last post, I finally made my long time dream come true and adopted a cat. He’s really wonderful and sweet, but I’m having a hell of a time coming up with a nickname for him… Bogie has so many great nicknames… Bogu, Bud (his shelter name), Bogs, Bogie Butt, Mr. Butt, Bogie Smalls, Sir Bogingsworth of Buttingham Palace… but I just can’t think of anything for Seymour. It’s such a serious name! Sy? Is that a nickname? Meh.

Mr. Seymour Butts

VEGAN…ISH

So I did my annual 30 days of yoga / vegan thing, and this time I’m trying to keep it up as best I can. Basically, I watched the pro-animal rights doc Dominion (voiceover by Joaquin Phoenix and friends…), and that did it. If you want to go vegan, watch that doc. It will give you nightmares and make you sick.

I’ve always known that I wanted to stop eating meat, and I don’t even like cow milk. But the eggs… I was more wishy washy. You’re just taking an animal byproduct right? Is it a big deal?

Well, I’ll admit I never thought about the fate of the male chicks. What happens to them? There were plenty of visceral images in the doc, but watching piles of male chicks fall en masse into a whirring macerator to become dog food, or being gassed in little gas chambers was what stuck with me most. Seeing hens stuck living in their cramped cages next to decaying corpses melting into the ground, or falling below the cages and slowly dying of hunger trapped in piles of chicken poop… yeah…I don’t like eggs THAT much. Factory farming is messed up.

That said, I want to be successful. So I’m trying for 90% vegan. I’ve had two meals in the past 2 months that had meat, which I’m fine with. And I’m still going to eat the many tins of canned fish I have in reserve. Thankfully Philly is actually really vegan-friendly (who knew?) so it’s not hard at all when out and about. And I’ve lost 5 lbs and my skin looks great, so maybe vanity will keep me going whenever I’m tempted.

Anyways, that’s it for me. Hopefully the next few months will be more calm, but we’ll see. 🙂

Life

When I moved to San Francisco I had to re-home my cat Catullus. He went to my Uncle Mao, so I know that he had a good life. But I’ve wanted another cat ever since. In fact, I remember in a therapy session maybe about eight years ago, my therapist asked me what I wanted out of life. All I wanted was a job that I enjoy that pays well, and a cat.

One perk of moving to Philadelphia was that Ryan and I would be able to get pets without worrying about landlord issues. Bogie came to us by chance on a visit to the SPCA on our very first day in Philly. We saw him, we met him, filled out paperwork, and we had adopted a puppy in a few hours. When I asked about getting a cat as well (I fell for a few hard that day…), the SPCA suggested waiting until Bogie was older, so that he would have training and impulse control.  Bogie is 10 months old now, so it seemed like now or never as far as adding another animal to the family.

I’d been creeping on Petfinder on and off since April of last year, and a few weeks ago I started looking again in earnest. Ryan wanted me to consider getting a kitten so that it would grow up with Bogie, but my dream was to rescue a fat male adult orange tabby who was especially sweet.

I found a few rescue cats that I was interested in, but I wanted to meet them in person instead of applying first. Why invest all the time passing adoption screening when you haven’t even met the cat yet? So I decided to hit up the shelters on February 1 (Saturday). Philadelphia being the sports crazy town it is, the shelters were running a Super Bowl pet adoption promotion – $25 off adoptions at the SPCA, and all adoptions FREE at ACCT. I guess the promotion worked, because the SPCA and ACCT were pretty bare compared to when I’d last visited in July. I didn’t have a love connection with any cat, and surprisingly went home empty handed.

That afternoon I applied for a cute kitten named Max. The adoption application took about 30 minutes, which was a surprise to me. They wanted me to describe my situation (rent or own, do the windows have screens, backyard?, who lives in the house, how old is everyone, any dogs?, what are their personalities and training history, list your past pets and how they died…) explain what I’d do in so many various scenarios (have to move, get pregnant, lose job, etc). And they wanted to inspect my house, call 3 character references, and my vet.

Max the cat
Max

The rescue was a volunteer operation, so I didn’t hear anything back for a few days. Several days later (Monday) I had to go downtown to get my laptop fixed. Afterwards, since I had kitty fever, I visited Morris Animal Refuge, which claims to be America’s first animal shelter.

I met this absolute cutie named Sebastian, but it wasn’t a good fit. He had been surrendered by his owner for playing too violently with his kitty sister, and was not dog friendly at all. He even hissed at a dog that passed by his cage.

Sebastian the cat
Sebastian

While I was there, I was trying to chat up a lady that came after me, who was just looking for “a cat.” She saw me playing with Sebastian, and met him right after me. When I went to pet him again, I heard her in the background talking to the adoptions officer. She was interested in adopting Sebastian, and the officer explained that adoptions were  “first come, first serve.” I stepped into the lobby to find her furiously filling out paperwork. I asked her if she’d “fallen in love.” She said yes, but she wouldn’t tell me which cat it was. She was trying to adopt that cat from right out under me!! It was hilarious. And cut-throat, really.

When I got home, I applied for another cat I was interested in – Sir Walter. He was a snuggly fat orange cat who was ok with dogs. Bingo! And unlike a kitten, I was really saving a life.

The cat rescue got him from ACCT, where he was surrendered by his previous owner. His original name was “Fat Cat” and he  was 6 years old, 17 pounds, flea-infested with matted fur, not microchipped, and had never seen a vet. The owner even thought the cat was female! The owner took him in when a neighbor left him out on the street when they moved. After two years, the owner had to move as well, and couldn’t keep him.

The application took me about 40 minutes to complete, but the rescue that was fostering him (Whiskers of Love) was much more responsive, and I heard back that day that my application would be processed in 24 hours.

The next day (Tuesday) I was approved! I could go meet him a few days later, and if it was a match, bring him home. So I withdrew my application for Max.

Friday Ryan and I took a Lyft about 30 minutes out to a pet store in Northeast Philadelphia. We met Sir Walter, and that was it. He was just as sweet and docile as could be. They had him on a cat harness, and we walked him around the shop! I knew that he was just right for our family.

Going home

We’ve had him for three days now, and he’s been great. Totally chill with Bogie, and very quiet, doesn’t meow at all (Bogie doesn’t bark at all either, super weird). He just loafs around and purrs. He never complains, even when you’re washing him. You can pick him up, put him in your lap, and he’ll just stay there for endless pets. I love him already. I went back and forth on names for a few days (because Sir Walter was REALLY good), but have decided on Seymour. He’s named after another chubby yet gentle ginger – Philip Seymour Hoffman. 🙂

Seymour getting comfy
Usurper!!!
Just loafin’ around
Zzzzz….

Not friends yet, but it’s progress!

Oh, last point – I was pretty hesitant about adopting through a cat rescue, worrying that I wouldn’t make it through the picky adoption screening gauntlet, but Whiskers of Love was great. The foster mom really knew a lot about his personality, and when I had litter box troubles a few days later, they were quick to help with more info. Would use them again, but I don’t think Ryan would let me have ANOTHER cat, lol.

Philadelphia

I knew that moving, wherever I went, was going to come with its ups and downs. Currently I feel like I’m in a down. I see more and more quirks of this city that frustrate me.

Things that aren’t really Philly things, just my life being different things

Movie theaters
The movie theaters are all a train ride away from the house, so I’ve only been twice in the past 5 months. That’s different for me. Ryan and I used to go to the movies all the time, and we’d walk there and back. I also haven’t been able to find a “nice” movie theater in town yet, that serves food at your seat like the Alamo, or that is in general not run down. There are a few Ritz/Landmark locations, so I’m hoping that those are nicer. When I had my Terry Gross sighting at Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, it was at a dirty and nondescript theater in the middle of nowhere. In my imagination she only goes to nice indie/arthouse movie theaters…

Coffee
The coffee scene here is strong, and thankfully I have lots of really great options near my house. Unfortunately the availability of good coffee beans is nonexistent at grocery stores (except for Whole Foods).

These days I’m buying my beans at the coffeeshop (free cup of coffee with bean purchase- yesssss), and I’ve started an online coffee bean subscription. It’s a luxury, but I love it.

Groceries

One plus of being here is that we can finally get an Imperfect Produce box. There are serious porch pirate problems here, but I’ve never had a box stolen since I’m always home during delivery. I like using the service a lot, but they don’t have everything, so I have to supplement by going to the local grocery store.

The Acme is overpriced, laid out nonsensically, and has very few employees on the registers even at super busy times like Sunday afternoon. 5 months of living here, and I still don’t know where the canned tomatoes are. You basically have to walk up and down every single aisle, since they’re not well labeled.

Trader Joes and Whole Foods are far away, so I never go anymore. The Acme enrages me so much that I’ve actually started paying for grocery delivery from Amazon Fresh. Worth it. A new Giant grocery store has opened across the street from the Acme, and it seems nice, so now I’m going there as well.

Food Scene
Food delivery here usually comes with a fee (starts at $1.50, most I’ve seen so far was $12), which wasn’t the norm in San Francisco. The food itself has been hit or miss for me. The bar food is fancy and consistently good, but I’m still looking for my dream bowl of pho, and I’ve pretty much given up on finding legit tacos here.

I had a love/hate with SF restaurants too, but I was hoping that Philadelphia food and drink would be cheaper. It’s not. Food/drink and groceries are my second biggest expense. I’m paying more in rent and taxes here too, so there is a growing disappointment that I’m paying more yet this city isn’t nicer, cleaner, or a notably better experience than SF.

The only thing nicer is that I live in a big new house and have a dog (I know that both of these are HUGE and I could not do the same in SF). Oh, and there is also less human feces in the street, and less tech influence (but also that means less job opportunities for me).

Actual Philly things

The opiod epidemic

We’re a block away from the train, and it’s basically what it would be like to live a block away from the 16th street BART stop. Junkies come and shoot up in our alley, nodding off on a stoop or on the sidewalk. Sometimes they beg me for money when I’m trying to walk home. Occasionally they go through our trash bags and spread trash everywhere.

Philadelphia is planning to open the nation’s first safe and supervised heroin injection site, in my neighborhood! It’s been gummed up in a legal battle, but I think it’s a go soon. I’m not sure how to feel about the center, but I hope it does clean things up/make things safer.

The depressing stretch of Girard that leads to the train stop / bus stop / dollar store / 7 Eleven / strip club / bar / McDonalds. I try to avoid this block by taking neighborhood streets, but usually we have to walk Bogie past this hot mess intersection to get to the dog park.
Getty Images

Trash
I’m running again, and it’s been a great way to get familiar with the city, but I’ve noticed that there is a general trash problem in Philadelphia. Being near the train stop makes it worse. I’ve had to pull Bogie away from needles and used tampons, and y’all know he ate a blunt already.

From some research, the trash problem seems to stem from a lack of infrastructure due to poverty (no street sweeping, fewer trash cans available), and local culture (throwing trash in storm drains, fast food leftovers out of moving cars, stashing beer cans in somebody’s potted plant, throwing trash on the ground 1 foot away from an actual trash can!!!).

People’s trash cans are the light plastic kind without lids, and every trash day it’s disheartening to see the trash guys pick up the bins, but as they’re dumping them, all sorts of loose junk falls out. They just keep going, the truck leaving a trail of garbage behind it, like a snail. And then since the cans are empty, they blow all around the street.

Philadelphia is the only major city to not have a street cleaning program. Apparently it was a casualty of some 2009 budget cuts and the aggressive car parking culture here. The city just completed a “pilot program” of street sweeping, but it seems unlikely that there will be enough money to make the service permanent across the city.

Business hours
Places are weird with their opening hours. One hair salon will be closed on Monday and Tuesday. One pho place is closed on Wednesdays, while the other pho place a few doors down is closed on Tuesdays. One hipster deli seems like it’s never open. Now I’m always checking the hours online, because I’ve been disappointed a few times.

Alcohol
I’m still learning the Pennsylvania beer and liquor laws. Grocery stores have bars within them so that they can legally sell beer, but if you want more than just a pack or two, you have to go to a beer distributor. You can also buy beer to go at bars, but I haven’t tried that yet.

One time I was in line at the grocery store behind this guy buying a bunch of beer, and the cashier made him walk three feet back from the register between purchases, so that he was technically only buying a certain amount of beer during each visit. WTH?

Liquor is purchased in a separate state run liquor store, so don’t expect a ton of fancy selection.

Many restaurants are BYOB, even the fancy pants ones.

Oh, another thing that they do here is throw cocktails in large plastic pouches with handles and a straw for maximum portability. Why? I don’t know why, but I’m for it.

Driving
Earlier this year Philly was named #2 on a list of 10 US cities with the most aggressive drivers (behind LA, duh). I don’t drive here at all, but it is dangerous to be a pedestrian or biker. I see cars, large delivery trucks, and even local city buses speeding up in order to run red lights at least once a day. Sometimes cars will just stop in the middle of the road to have a chat with someone they know standing on the sidewalk. Even buses do this. Buses have also moved out of their lane into oncoming traffic when they get stuck in traffic. I’m always really cautious when I’m on my runs or taking Bogie for a walk. Trust no car!

It’s also apparently a Philly thing to be a total asshole and park wherever you want, whenever you want, even if you’re blocking an entire street’s traffic. Most often people just pull up onto the sidewalks. Not sure why it’s a thing, but ok.

Another street phenomenon that’s new to me are the “wheelie kids” – swarms of kids/teenagers that ride the wrong way down busy streets, popping wheelies and playing chicken with oncoming traffic, nearly causing accidents. I know they’re just kids having fun, but they can be mean and mess with pedestrians. One time one of them almost swerved into Bogie and then called Ryan a pussy, or something like that. LOL.

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Greatest city in the world 🌎

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What happens when wheelie kids grow up? They become the dirt bike, ATV, and quad gangs. It is really… wild.

Okay, I’m starting to feel like a grouch, so I’m going to go ahead and end this tirade. I do hope that eventually some of these city quirks will become endearing, or that I at least stop actively noticing them. But do you really want to get used to trash, heroin addicts, and shitty driving? I already did that in SF, it’s sad.

Bogie, Life

A couple of weeks ago we had our first puppy emergency. It started as just another Saturday, full of Saturday activities. Bogie had his last day of puppy training, and received his certificate (so proud).

After training we went for a walk through the neighborhood and ate lunch outside at a taco spot we’d been eyeing for a while (Side note: If your tagline is “Tacos that don’t suck” your tacos probably suck).

Bogie was well behaved at the restaurant, which was a little unusual. Normally he’d want to meet everyone for pets and poke around below the tables to look for scraps. However we’d been out for a few hours so we figured that he was just tired. It was also nice to be able to focus on our lunch and not have to constantly be watching him.

Immediately when we got home, he started acting funny. He was a bit wobbly on his feet, and looked tired. He was having a hard time walking, so we put him to bed. As he lay there, his body kept swaying back and forth, like he was on a boat. His eyes were glazed over, but scared.

I was tired from the long day, so I was hoping that he was just dehydrated or something. But then he started peeing all over himself. There’s no ignoring that :(.

It was 3pm, and our neighborhood vet had just closed, so Ryan called the next closest vet, which closed at 4. Since Bogie couldn’t walk very well, we decided to throw him in a tote bag, like we did back when he was little. He’s over 30 pounds now, so the only one that he would fit in was a massive handmade tote my friend Brittani had made me. Really need to get him a proper carrier, but he just keeps growing and growing…

During the intake session, Ryan noticed some blood on his arm. Then there were drops of blood on the bench we were sitting on. I started freaking out, but turns out that it wasn’t Bogie’s blood, a tiny scratch was bleeding like crazy from my arm. I grabbed a tissue and tried to stop the bleeding for the next five minutes. Ridiculous.

Anyways, after the consultation and an exam, the vet suggested that Bogie’s symptoms fit with marijuana ingestion! The team there were very sweet and reassuring, but I felt like they were pointing the finger at us a bit. No, we did not give our dog weed. No, we don’t know where he might have encountered it. We live in Kensington, so he probably just ate a blunt on the sidewalk. Unfortunately there was no more that they could do for us since they weren’t open 24 hours. So they referred us to another animal hospital.

We then hopped in a Lyft and went a few miles further south to the emergency center. The vibe was a little different there. Once we told reception what had happened, they started making marijuana jokes, which sounds mean, but was strangely comforting. Like, okay, maybe everything’s going to be all right. We can joke about this. My dog is probably just high. Partied too hard after puppy class graduation, and just needs a stern talking to.

During intake, they asked how old Bogie was. It was October 5, and we said “five and a half months.” When they entered that information, the software suggested 4/20/2019 as his birthday. Can’t make this stuff up, really.

We waited for quite a while in the waiting room. I kept eyeballing some ranch chips in the vending machine, but was ultimately too afraid to try them. Every now and then a dog would have an accident, and a vet tech would come out to spray it down. So. Much. Pee.

The Devil Wears Prada was playing in the background, and one of the vet techs complained that with all the commercials, the movie had been on for hours. When would it end? Ryan didn’t have the heart to tell her she still had a few more hours to go.

Unfortunately we were witness to a few real emergencies. A woman rushed into the hospital with a badly injured German Shepard puppy in her arms. She was wearing a white shirt, and was covered all over in bright red blood. Apparently the puppy had been attacked by another dog. A few minutes later the woman’s mother and young daughter came in, and the daughter really didn’t know what was going on. “Where’s the puppy mommy?”, “What’s on your shirt mommy?.” Heartbreaking, but maybe it’s good that the little girl didn’t have a clue. It was grisly.

Eventually we got a chance to talk to another vet. They said that they would do some bloodwork, but they weren’t going to test for THC since the tests aren’t that reliable. We had a choice to make – take him home and give him fluids, or let him stay the night for observation. If Bogie was still off the next day, then it probably wasn’t weed. He might have a neurological disorder. Yikes. We figured that it was better to play it safe, so Bogie stayed the night at the animal hospital. They shaved his leg for the bloodwork and gave him an IV.

Don’t leave me!
Plz

On the way out Ryan asked about the German Shepard puppy. It didn’t make it 🙁 . I still feel sad thinking about that poor puppy, and that family. They must be traumatized.

The next day Ryan went to pick up Bogie, and he seemed to be back to his old self. I was worried that he would be upset about us abandoning him to a night at the scary animal hospital, but according to Ryan on discharge, Bogie was trying to get pets from strangers, not a care in the world. We have a very easy dog.

I was pretty shook up by the range of emotions I went through on that day. I really thought that he might die, just because we weren’t watching him close enough. The whole experience is just another confirmation that I shouldn’t have kids. I am unfit for duty. And for those of you who know about the “cookie incident,” you know that my mom went through something quite similar with me back in high school. I’ve been laughing about it with friends for years, but I’m sorry mom!!!! I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart for scaring the crap out of you and costing you a ton of money!

Wondering why I won’t leave him alone
Life, Philadelphia

Time flies! Today marks 2 months since we moved to Philadelphia. Here’s how it’s been going.

Moving day. 7 bags, ~300 lbs

HOUSE STUFF

Ryan closed on the house at the end of May, and we stayed out here for about a week at the beginning of June just to get things set up. At the time I thought that it was a bit extra, and I was wary of the additional cost, but looking back, it was definitely a good idea. The whole flurry of leaving San Francisco for good was stressful, and I couldn’t imagine having to spend those first few surreal days having to deal with Comcast, buying toilet paper, and setting up a bed.

Still, there was tons to do once we got here. Since we don’t have a car, we’ve been ordering a lot of furniture and essentials off the internet. The first few weeks were an endless stream of packages from UPS, FedEx, and the USPS. My hands got red and raw from hauling things around, building furniture, and breaking down a million boxes. I hadn’t gotten used to the house yet, so I kept bumping into things, leaving miserable bruises all over my body. The absolute worst was when I ran into our new wood/leather couch while trying to answer the door. I did this all by myself, isn’t that cool?

Anyways…everything was a bit of a mess for the first few weeks, but it’s all coming together slowly.

Staining Ikea furniture for the guest room

BOGIE (OREO MILKSHAKE TRAN-LAWLER)

Tote-a-pup

In a move that will surprise absolutely no one, on our first full day in Philadelphia, Ryan suggested that we visit the SPCA. One thing led to another, and we ended up adopting an adorable and terribly frightened puppy, one of a litter of 3. I was a bit nervous  about how the little guy would do, since he was incredibly anxious and sad looking in the shelter. But once we got him home, he relaxed and became a total love bug! I don’t blame him, I would be depressed and scared in the animal shelter too. It was nothing like the super chill and beautiful San Francisco SPCA adoption center. It was straight up THE POUND.

Bogie couldn’t go on walks until he finished his course of shots, so we were housebound for about three weeks. I never knew this was a thing, that dogs shouldn’t be walking around on the ground outside and meeting strange dogs until about 4 months. How do dog owners handle this quarantine? It’s terrible!

There were a few times that we took him out in a tote bag, but beyond that, we were in the house, watching him like a hawk and making sure that he didn’t have any house training accidents. We’ve also been crate training him, and it’s been rough. At night he would howl, scream and cry, and paw furiously at his crate like we were torturing him. Several times we had to stop since it was just too disruptive.

After too many nights of sleep deprivation I found myself getting angry. Why did we have to get a puppy? Why not an adult dog that already had its shit together (literally!). Why did it have to be crate trained? Why couldn’t he just shut up so I could sleep?

I honestly thought I was going to lose it for a few weeks. Thankfully I found the subreddit puppy101. The regret and exhaustion we were going through was so common it had a cutesy name – ‘the puppy blues’. I resolved to stick it out, and things have gotten better. Now Bogie can sleep through the night in his crate, hasn’t had accidents in the house in quite a while, and we can leave him in his crate for a few hours while we go out and explore the city. I still wish we had waited longer before committing to a dog, since I wanted to do some traveling up and down the coast, but I’m sure we’ll figure it out.

WORKING REMOTE

Working remotely full time has been pretty good. There’s the novelty of not being in an office surrounded by coworkers of course, no commute, and then the time difference. But mostly the work is the same, and surprisingly, I still get the “Sunday Scaries” – anxiety about work on Sunday night. Having a cheerful study with this little office buddy helps. 🙂

PHILADELPHIA IN GENERAL

I remembered that east coast summers were rough, but it’s been nasty. Mid 90s with on and off thunderstorms. Still, we’ve been able to get out and about. There have been a ton of outdoor events we’ve stumbled onto.

Fourth of July
East Passyunk Car Show
A curious hearse
2nd Street Festival
View from the Cherry Street Pier

Everyone has been pretty friendly/polite. I don’t know if it’s a Philadelphia thing or it’s a neighborhood thing. I haven’t made any friends yet, but I definitely make plenty of casual conversation day to day. Having a dog helps a lot on that front. Bogie is a puppy, so he gets lots of attention. One time I took him to the dog park 10 minutes away and got stopped 4 times! In one instance a girl literally laid down on the sidewalk and let Bogie jump all over her! A quarter of a block later, a couple stopped to pet him and reminisce about losing 2 dogs in the past six months. They started getting teary and wondering whether they would ever love a dog again. WHOA.

OTHER ODDS AND ENDS

Ryan got excited about composting, but we hadn’t figured out the right ‘ratio’ of organic matter, so the back yard smelled hideous for the first couple weeks. And the flies, oh the flies. At one point last weekend, I killed 11 flies in the kitchen in one afternoon. I felt like a ninja, popping them with my towel of death, until I realized every time that there was yet another fly.

Building things to keep Bogie out of the compost, and out of our neighbor’s yard!

I’ve been hitting up local developer meetups, and there’s definitely a dev scene here, but there isn’t the same free flowing startup money in it like SF. No beer, limited food. Guess I’ve been spoiled by SF and its heavily sponsored events.

Speaking of SF, I actually just got back from a quick work trip there. Being in the city felt strange, like I’d just come back from a long vacation, but I couldn’t go home because home didn’t exist anymore. I got to spend every night with friends though, and that was nice. I miss them the most.