As of September 13th, I’ve officially been out of California for three years. Three years. Sometimes it seems like it’s been much longer than that and other times, it feels like I moved out here only yesterday. Though I’ve become greatly tired of this town and nearly all things that it does not have to offer, I know that I wouldn’t have grown and learned so much had I never moved out here.
Three years in this town has left me with a bittersweet taste for it –more bitter than sweet. Year one was scary and exciting and different from what I considered “normal.” Year two was one that enabled me to really learn more about the people in my life; the ones I could live without and the ones I couldn’t; the ones who disappointed me like I expected they would; the ones who turned out to be full of it and the ones who turned out to be liars; the ones who were too negative to talk to too often, if ever; the ones who were more uplifting than I could ever be. Simply put, year two was a challenging year for various reasons.
I was doing okay this past year, ready to go home, but okay –until my brother and cousin came out here and pointed out all of the things I’d mentally suppressed over the past couple of years: “Why does everyone drive the same speed?” “Why is no one ever in a hurry?” “Why does everyone smoke?” “The radio stations suck.” Etc., etc. Since they asked and said these things, my road rage (which I picked up out here) has been horrible and my tolerance for most things “Pittsburgh” has gone completely out the window.
With each passing day I’m over “it” more and more: I’m over the fact that most people I’ve come across consider bar-hopping every weekend to be rather enjoyable and have NO desire to do anything else. I’m over the fact that people don’t realize how little they actually do due to the bar-hopping issue. I’m over the way my lungs collapse almost every time I step out of my car because of the insane amount of smokers. I’m over the underwhelming desire of people to step outside of the city to see the rest of the world –not even for a vacation (no, West Virginia, DC, Ohio, and Maryland do not count). It wouldn’t be so bad if these were “older” people or people who have already experienced other parts of the world and what it has to offer; people who have done things outside of bars and have realized that they simply prefer the bar scene to everything else. No, these are people who have never done anything, never seen anything, and have no desire whatsoever to do so. I’m over it all.
I still find it mind boggling that once again, Pittsburgh is the number one city in the country to live in. Yes, there are many wonderful museums and a few lounges and galleries spread throughout town. Yes, there are countless bars. No, violence doesn’t seem as bad out here as it is in many other places. Yes, the Steelers and Penguins are here and both won their respective championships. Yes, the skyline is beautiful and the bridges boast their own mystique. But uhhh, what else? Dang near everyone smokes cigarettes and/or is grossly overweight. Once you’ve seen the museums a time or two, the novelty disappears. It seems like public schools are closing left and right each year and the city is tailored to two groups of people –one more so than the other. You can hike, camp, and fish nearby, but if you want to do something other than those three things, you’re in for a good little drive. But apparently, it’s the best city in the U.S. to live –go figure. I suppose if I were raised inhaling cigarette smoke and puffing a few myself, bar hopping, drinking beer while watching the Steelers and Pens games, and hiking or camping on occasion, I’d love this place. However, as someone who has not lived in a bubble her entire life, this town is for the birds.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a HUGE Steelers fan and always have been and I didn’t start watching hockey until I got out here, and I was excited when they won the Cup. I still find the skyline and the drive into the city to be breathtaking. I often have my moments (frustrated as I might be) when I’m driving around town and am stunned by the beauty that the city (well, the trees) has to offer. I’m still taken aback by the bright green leaves of spring and the colors of the fall and the purity of a fresh winter snowfall. I still find it crazy wonderful when it starts storming like mad completely out of the blue for a quick few minutes. I love the crispness of early fall mornings that give way to pleasantly warm and sunny days that return to cool and crisp evenings upon nightfall. I’m still amused when I step outside on sunny winter days and am slapped in the face by the cold because I forgot for a quick moment, that though the sun is out, it’s still winter.
Though the entire year has been one of prayer, growth and realizations, I’d say the past few months have been the culmination of my evolution out here. The months have been ones of unexpected firsts, further realizing who I can live without speaking to or seeing regularly and those who I hope to never have to –well, anytime soon anyway. Since meeting and working with many wonderful people at fantastic jobs, I’ve finally begun to get a grasp on the direction of the next phase of my life and how I’m going to get there. I’ve got a short while left in this town and though I’m anxious to go, I’m grateful for what I’ve learned about myself and others to this point in my life. The next few sure to be stressful months are going to be long, but quick, and full of anticipation, frustration, and much thought and I welcome it.