I love my city. I cannot imagine a place better suited for me. Oh, sure, sometimes I fantasize about moving to the deep south because I am pretty sure it would be just like living in a Sonny Landreth song, and certain other cities have certainly seduced me at other times – Austin springs to mind, and Ithaca. But dollar for dollar, I can’t imagine another city beating our walkability, our wide variety of restaurants, the Carnegie Library system, the plays, the music, the little clubs, the public transportation, not to mention the generosity, kindness and tender spirit of the people. S. and I have moved around for so long that sometimes, when I am walking to or from the bus station, I have to remind myself that I am really and truly here, that I am not leaving for years and years and years, that it is okay to love this city as much as I do because this time, we won’t be leaving.
I love Pittsburgh. But as I was telling S. last night, he loves it on a whole different level. I am long-term relationship in love with our new home, but S. is in that mad, deep, affair kind of in love, and I don’t see him resurfacing anytime soon. What’s more, he GETS this city – and this city GETS him. It is one thing for me to say I hope we never have to move again…I am a creature of habit and I’ve found a place I adore and now I would like to nest and never leave because that is who I am. It’s entirely another for S., who has moved every three to five years throughout his entire life, to say he hopes we never move, because already I had expected a certain restlessness in his eyes, a certain tapping of his foot, a certain ‘what’s next’ in the arch of his eyebrows.
It’s not just that he says things like “I love this city, I hope we never have to leave,” although that certainly would be evidence enough to support my claim. No, it’s the way he understands what is happening around him well before I do. For instance, we have season tickets for the University of Pittsburgh football. These were not tickets I necessarily wanted since I told S. I did not want all of my Saturdays taken up with Pitt football when I could be watching Michigan State, but after one game I am sold and even convinced S. to buy a tailgating pass (that’s another thing about Pittsburgh – season tickets plus a pass to tailgate in Michigan would have forced us to mortgage the house we don’t have…here the combined package barely scratch $150). It took me a while to get used to watching football again…Michigan State has been so bad in recent years, as have the Lions, that I usually end up reading through most of the games, but as the rules of the game came back to me and I started to enjoy myself, the crowd suddenly emitted a huge roar of approval which completely baffled me since our team had just fumbled the ball.
“What the hell? How is that kind of play a good thing,” I asked S.
S. shook his head and pointed at the jumbo screen. “They roared because West Virginia is losing. We HATE West Virginia.”
“We do?” I asked. “How do you even know that?”
“They are Pitt’s equivalent of the University of Michigan,” he explained patiently. “Everybody knows that.”
Later in the game, the exact opposite happened. Just seconds after we achieved a first down a similar roar, this time of anger. I looked to the screen but the West Virginia score wasn’t up, so I glanced at S. for an explanation.
“Penn State won. Also, we hate Penn State.”
So, we have decided to buy a house. I am certain there are blog posts to come on this subject later, but for now we have the mortgage pre-approval and our conversation has started to become cluttered with terms like school district and market value and what the hell is the gas bill for this bohemoth? Turns out, tooling around with our beloved realtor (and seriously, she is the best realtor I have ever met, I want to postpone buying a house just to spend more time with her so THANK YOU, E!), S. possesses a fundamental understanding of Pittsburgh that I doubt I ever will. At its core, Pittsburgh is nothing more than nine or so miles of neighborhoods slammed into one another and crawling up the surrounding mountains, and it can be very very hard, without a map and a native burger by your side, to understand which neighborhood is which, unless, of course, you are S. or our realtor or God. Many of our conversations went like this, yesterday:
Me, looking at one half of a brownstone so terribly, obviously, unarguable in the neighborhood of Squirrel Hill with the Good High School for our yet-to-be-conceived child: Okay, so, this is Squirrel Hill.
S: Um, no, Court. This is not Squirrel Hill. This is Greenfield.
Me: It can’t possibly be. This is Squirrel Hill.
S: No. The neighborhood of Squirrel Hill stops in the middle of this intersection and becomes Greenfield.
He sighs, and shakes his head. “I don’t know I feel about the tax base here, C.” He says to Beloved Realtor. She heartily agrees, and together we cross the street, back to Squirrel Hill, and bop our way to the next neighborhood.
Me: Oh! Hey! We are in Baby Duck’s neighborhood! He loves that bar we just passed!
S: Baby Duck’s neighborhood ends at that bar. We are now in Edgewood.
Me: Oh, well, honestly. How can that possibly be? I could walk to his house right now. In under a couple of minutes, I think.
S: Right now, this very second, our car is parked over the line of three, yes, THREE different municipalities. It is very, very important we make sure NOT to buy in Wilkinsburg, even though the while the air I am breathing is Edgewood, the air you are breathing is Wilkinsburg. We are several neighborhoods away from your brother right now, in fact.
He and Beloved Realtor ensure we are, quite literally, on the Right Side of the Tracks while I think I am sorry but does nobody else see how queer this geography is?
I’ve never seen S. quite settle in somewhere before. Today he will go to my brother’s restaurant for lunch, as he does quite regularly now. He will go to the gym, something he has never done before. I am not quite sure what is plan are for tonight since I will be sitting with E. on her new front porch, but tomorrow night we will spend some time, walking around potential new neighborhoods, holding hands, and I bet I will hear, more than once, I love this city. I just love it here.
Me too babe. Me too.