So. Here we are. In Pittsburgh.
It’s very surreal to be here, really. It’s been nearly 10 years since I left. As I’ve been saying frequently, I couldn’t wait to escape then; but after a decade living in Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Saint Louis, I can say from experience rather than youthful provincialism that it really is a very nice city.
The city of Pittsburgh as seen from Mount Washington,
an incline car in the foreground.
Most places, you go back 10 years later and everything’s different. New developments, new stores, old beloved landmarks torn down. Pittsburgh, though, seems mostly unchanged. But not in the way of resisting change because it’s scary, but in the sense of “why fix what ain’t broke?” There are some changes, but mostly old run-down neighborhoods that seem a little brighter and cleaner. Even new stores that have moved in fit in rather than forcing their image on the place. The new Whole Foods in Friendship (a mile from where I lived when I was in college) feels like it’s always been there. The Science Center still has sinfully delicious onion rings, the best model trains ever, and their kids floor has been redone to be beyond amazing.
(My alma mater, Carnegie Mellon, does have this new sculpture thingy in front that’s mildly horrid. I can only hope it’s temporary.)
I imagine the suburbs have changed more, and if I go out to Greensburg to check out my childhood landmarks there may be more to come to grips with. But as it is, it’s comfortable. Startlingly so.
Anyway, for the moment we’re in this little 1-bedroom apartment in Brighton Heights, a forgotten little neighborhood on the non-scary part of the North Shore. It’s the first floor of a house with the very nice (Steelers fan!) landlady upstairs and good friends next door, including a 5-yr-old who’s getting along famously with Aiden. Over the weekend we saw a house not far from here that we are hoping will become our forever home – a six-bedroom Victorian at the entrance to a huge park. It’s a bit of a fixer-upper, but perfectly livable in the meantime, and the landlady is a sweetheart.
There’s a part of me that is mildly terrified about the house, because it is huge, three floors plus a basement. That’s a lot to take care of with my health issues. But the stairs are wide and stable; I could manage those even on a bad day, and I’ve had so few of those lately. It doesn’t have a huge amount of gardening space, but with 300 acres of park half a block away, who cares?! I feel at this juncture like I need to have faith in the future. I feel like I can have faith in the future, here. And that house has room for everything we need or want – studio, office, game room, temple space galore.
I’d forgotten how much life and personality houses have here. They breathe at night. The one we want to get feels lonely – it’s been sitting vacant for a year, waiting for the right people.
I do miss Saint Louis, especially our dear friends there. It was far harder to leave there than it’s been to leave anywhere else I’ve lived. But it seems it was the right thing. (I should mention that our new house will have plenty of room for out-of-town guests ;)
We’re in Pittsburgh.