The Keswick Village: My Home Away From Home
2020. At times, this year has made me think that “normal” is a thing of the past, but the surprisingly great thing about change is that, while at first things are strange and difficult, with time, we make a new normal.
Keswick Village is a small hub of family-owned businesses originally developed at the turn of the century as a get-away for rich Philadelphians. It remains a vibrant community to this day. I live in the village, in a two-bedroom apartment with my girlfriend of two years, one of my teammates, and our beagle rescue. We are directly above the shops and just a short walk from the historic Keswick Theater, Keswick Tavern—a great place to watch the big game—Penny’s Flowers, among others.
While some of our neighbors in the village are fellow Arcadians, we are in the minority—if you are looking to live completely surrounded by college students, I would suggest living in Oak Summit or Towers. But in my opinion, Keswick is by far the superior place to live off campus.
During COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown, things have changed quite a lot, as they have everywhere, but the new normal is not simply putting on a mask and trying your best to stay in doors. Of course, we do our best to abide by health and safety recommendations and practice social distancing, but there are more meaningful changes to the way of life here.
I recently started working at O’Neill’s Food Market, the family-run grocery store just underneath our apartment. The presence of sanitation stations and hand sanitizer are not the only changes I have noticed. One change that I hope stays in place even after the pandemic ends is how we wish each other to be safe and healthy. “Hello, how are you?” has never been a more essential question. Simply checking in on someone can make their day. Also, when someone tells me that they are well and having a good day, it really does put a smile on my face. I like to say that I am glad to hear that they are well, and I can see the corners of their masks pull up as they smile.
When we go out to restaurants, the owners are genuinely appreciative that we chose to come. Supporting local businesses is important, especially in times like these, and I can feel the impact that our patronage has.
Another change is the frequency of video calling and communication between family. I grew up in California, where my parents still live. My siblings and I have each gone to college far from home. Typically, we would visit twice a year, but with the difficulty that COVID-19 poses to travel, we have resorted to seeing each other via our phones, but more often than we could ever do flying to Los Angeles. It has been very important this year to keep in touch with the people we love, and it has made me feel closer to them, despite the distance.
And with the charm of string lights and the buzz of the crowd gathering outside the Tavern, I’m grateful that Keswick is my home away from home.