I’ve lived in New York long enough to be a convert, and the truth is, I don’t get home now as much as I used to. But when I do take the two-hour trip south and my grandmom asks me to get her a bair (beer), or friends visiting from Philly ask if we can get New York “beggles” (bagels), the melody hits me like an icy snowball to the back of the neck. Oh you sweetly hideous accent, you remind me of simpler times. Go Phillies, and may Harry Kalas rest in peace.
The sound of where we come from is as potent as the smells, the sights, or the embrace of that place. I think it’s because the auditory sense so often takes us by surprise. There’s a tribal instinct that gets sparked when our local parlance is used within earshot, and whether it’s the accent a person uses or a casually slung piece of slang, it can stir a reflexive, near-Pavlovian reaction.
If someone within a 100-yard radius were to ask me to pass them that jawn, I’d go through hell or high wooder to give it to them. As a New Yorker with a Philadelphian background, there is almost nothing that makes me more homesick. Well, except maybe the taste of a good soff pressel.
In New York, a thousand repetitive sounds and earworms are buzzing every moment of the day. It’s numbing. You absorb everything and process nothing.
In that din, I can still sense the presence of a Philadelphian. The accent rings out to me as clear and pure as a bell. I want to bask in the nutting’-ness all day. When I hair that Philly melody, I follow it like a daydream, and it takes me back home in my mind. What a bee-you-tee-full place it is to be.
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Dayna Evans is a writer for The Cut at New York magazine. She lives & works in NYC.