Sep 14, 2009

So I've been meaning to write about a week ago Friday, when I met my friend Jill in Philipsburg, PA, and fell completely in love with that town, which had already semi won my affections by being part rundown and part gorgeous (one of those towns in PA that was fancy and posh over 100 years ago but has fallen on hard times since) and by being home to my wondrous accordion teacher CLARICE. As well as to Jill, who wrote a column about life in Philipsburg for many moons in the Centre Daily Times and lives in the most gorgeous, glamorous, pristine 1920s Philipsburg house that cost like TWO CENTS and has this sprawling front porch and these gleaming wood floors and these arched doorways and these FRENCH DOORS and about 500000 other things that might shrivel my heart with jealousy should I continue to describe them. So on Friday I arrived at Jill's house... and here she is on the porch...

and after looking around and fainting dead away at least five times, and after making the acquaintance of her boyfriend and her two ridiculous girly dogs, she took me down the street to her friends Rita and Willy's house... where they have built a HORSE STALL (or whatever it's called) in the adjoining lot to house their horse BRAVO. Whom Rita often hooks an old time Amish buggy to and RIDES AROUND TOWN and into the woods behind it... Jill had arranged for me to take such a ride, and so I hopped in said buggy with Rita and off we went, clattering through the streets, across the main drag, through this whole neighborhood and onto this gorgeous lonely road alongside a cemetery and then into the woods beyond...

Here are Rita and Bravo:

And then here was the view from the buggy, including of my very practical yet inspiring red and rhinestoned sandals:

Now, riding through the woods on this bumping carriage with plants lashing you on either side and that horse breaking into a run was about as lovely a time as I can imagine, tho I did once or twice hear some crackling of wooden wheels and imagine myself hurtling to my glamorous demise. Unfortunately, after about 45 minutes, around the time that we were turning back... I discovered that my terrible allergy to horses -- which I discovered last summer after being lovingly and connivingly nuzzled by one Mata Hari and then BREAKING INTO HIVES -- does not even allow me to SIT BEHIND one of them trotters without watering and sneezing and basically becoming supernaturally ill. This was a very sad realization for me, of course, as I had vowed then and there to travel only by horse and buggy from then on. Miraculously, I arrived back at Rita and Willy's with limbs intact, if not heart.

Jill and I then meandered about the town and she showed me many of its wonders, including the astonishingly preserved ROWLAND THEATER, which was originally a late 19th century vaudeville theater and is about as jewel-like and elegant an old theater as you will find. I mean super lavish, with ornate murals and red carpets and framed fabrics and stained glass and skylights and this art deco-y stage.... I do love me some fancy perfume-bottle-lookin theaters and this one was just gorgeous. Sadly, the movie playing was ICE AGE, whereas the week before it had been INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, so noooo movie for us. Plus Jill had arranged a backstage tour for me but due to the lengthiness of my BUGGY RIDE it shall have to wait.

We THEN went to the newly restored PHILIPS HOTEL for a fancy dinner and "sexy drink" (according to the menu... but I'm not gonna lie, my "pear-a-sol" was rather alluring) and then wandered about some more and admired many of the elaborate old churches in town, especially Jill's favorite, an old gothic cathedral with a spooky graveyard bordered by an old stone wall and like four Civil War soldiers buried within.

We then stopped by 1 NORTH FRONT STREET.... another gorgeous old building that used to be some big bank and is now being rented out by this fabulous lady KRISTINE, who just moved to Philipsburg in the spring from DC and is set to open a coffee shop and bookstore on the old bank's first floor. Jill wrote about it here. Kristine came down and opened up the building and showed us all around and it's just such a cool thing to me, moving to a little town into this old fabulous building and making something wonderful. The second floor is then all wood and gorgeousness and like SIX huge sweeping rooms where all the bank offices and meeting rooms used to be... One is now a massage room, one is a waiting room for the massages, and then three are just these big gleaming old rooms with huge windows and big wood tables.. and one even has an old time telephone booth made from wood and that glittery spooky lookin old glass. I asked Kristine what those rooms were for and she said "whatever I want them to be!" and she's totally open to ideas and I immediately and selflessly thought how my friend Rowan could teach bellydancing there and I've also been contemplating holding a fiction writing workshop there and/or a day long workshop about publishing, since everyone always asks me about agents and editors and how stuff works. Oh, and this is because I PLAN TO BE MOVING TO SOME PHILIPSBURG once I get back from Berlin. To which I shall fly tomorrow.

SO standing with Kristine and Jill, both of whom love this old dying-but-trying-to-come-back-to-life strange little town, I was thinking this is exactly where I'd like to be, at least for a while, who knows. So when I get back I wanna get a car and a beautiful old place to live, and set up shop, and admire BRAVO from afar, with glamorously wistful tears accentuating my eyeballs.

We ended the evening having drinks on Jill's porch, all candle-lit and moonlit with swaying trees and plants crowding around and two crazy dogs scurrying about at our feet.