A couple nights ago, I was scrolling down my Facebook feed, as per usual, when I saw a girl I had met a few times post a statement that I had known true to my heart since the first day that I moved to this city:
"Sometimes I feel like I'm in a relationship with Pittsburgh."
Sometimes I look outside and want to hate this city so much because it's too damn cold, or windy, or rainy, and forgodssakewhereisthesundoesitevercomeoutdoesitevenexisthereomgomgomg ok. (I'm done. sorry.)
Sometimes I look at the shamble ridden infrastructures of South Oakland and feel disgusted that half of these places, many of which are falling apart in their own ways, are still deemed livable to college students and the occasional older couple.
There are many days that I have woken up, wanting to give up, feeling not an ounce of motivation boiling in my blood, feeling myself surrender to the grey weather and coldness around me.
Oftentimes I get really frustrated that I can't pick up my surf board and drive out to the beach, or sit on the lifeguard stand at Hobe Sound Beach and write, or think, or simply cry when I couldn't put words to paper over what I have felt.
There have been many times where I have forgotten what warmth feels like, what it felt like to have the warmth of the sun lick its rays against my shoulders as they continuously brown into a deep tan.
There are days when the PAT buses are running so slowly (I'm looking at you, Sunday schedule) and all I want to do is dig the heel of my boots into the ground until my utter frustration simply vanishes, although it never quite seems to until I finally arrive at my final destination and exit the bus.
This is the city that has destroyed me in so many ways. It stripped me bare and broke me. It's made me lash out, act crazy, be a bitch, be selfish and a bad person.
Yet, that doesn't make up for the amount of times that Pittsburgh has actually saved me. For every bite of destruction it gave me, for every awful incident that has been thrown my way, Pittsburgh and it's daunting skyline have blessed me more than I could ever hope in the three years that I've been here, amidst all the frustrations and anger I shed towards it sometimes.
Pittsburgh gave me an amazing group of girlfriends my freshman year. Pittsburgh gave me a few wonderful guys who came in and out to teach me how to guard my light, how to protect myself, but also how to let myself love others. Pittsburgh gave me Kenny, and Alex, and Megan, and Josh, and Noelle and Nikki and Katherine and so many other beautiful people that I am continuously thankful for. You know, sometimes you hate to acknowledge how much love surrounds you, and maybe that's how it needs to be, because we'd actually destroy ourselves from feeling the exuberant amounts of love that we show towards others and that others show towards us. It's why we need to feel numb, indifferent sometimes. Yet while our hearts may be numb to feeling, we should never let our minds stop ourselves from remembering the amazing things the loved ones in our lives have done for us. This city has torn me away from so many wonderful people, yet in return has also given me an abundance of beautiful souls that seem to love me amidst my brokenness despite the fact that I'm really awful and irresponsible and have a super fiery temper and make stupid decisions sometimes.
Pittsburgh gave me a level of strength that I never recognized I had within myself, where I have located some of my darkest shadows, where they have followed me around and tried with every fiber of their existence to engulf me in whatever dark places they wanted to take me to and keep me there. Pittsburgh has let me explore myself, to re-create myself from the extremely shy-girl shell I had put myself in high school because I was so scared of letting people get to really know me. It's broken me, sure, and there are so many days when I don't think I'm smart or strong or pretty enough to do certain things. I discovered I can be that crazy emotional person, and I was at a couple of low points. But in a way, there are more days when I feel like Charlie does in that scene from The Perks of Being a Wallflower where him, Sam, and Patrick are driving through the Fort Pitt Tunnel and he is in the back of Patrick's pickup truck, holding on for dear life while Patrick is driving through the tunnel, yet completely lets go and simply lets himself soak in Pittsburgh and it's skyline once he lays eyes on it. He is strong, he feels beautiful, he feels invincible as they are flying across the bridge to downtown. Pittsburgh and the people that come along with it gave him an energy that made him believe in himself in that moment, as I have found people that have helped me many a time believe in myself.
Whenever I feel frustrated at this city, whenever I am at my wit's end with this place, I always find myself putting on my Asics and running. I run despite the chilliness, despite the rain, despite the heat when it does actually feel like summertime. I run regardless of how depressed I may feel or frustrated or angry. I run to the top of Flagstaff Hill in Schenley Park every time. It has become my new lifeguard post from Hobe Sound Beach, my thinking spot. For those of you who have been there, you know. For those who have not, I encourage you to walk up on a clear night, sit, maybe take a good book, and gape at the almost idyllic painting that's drawn right before you, especially at sunset. I reach the top, turn around, sit, and then I'm reminded of who my first love ever was, why I fell in love with her, and why I will always love her despite my moods, my quips about the awful weather and so many parts of her existence. I think the reason why I love this city so much is because she's almost, if not more, broken than I am. Down to the crumbling buildings, to the broken souls I pass on the streets of Oakland every day, to every homeless man and woman that has wandered through Oakland begging for a way of support to keep them alive, to the drunkards stumbling out of the bars at 2 am on East Carson Street, to the Lululemon-clad, small dog-wielding women in Shadyside who always seem to have a yoga mat on them and be on some new juicing diet. Everything about this city is broken or borderline questionable it's it own ways, factioned sometimes even by it's many neighborhoods, but amidst it's brokenness I find only pure beauty and hope in the most strange situations sometimes. I see a city that has fallen down and rebuilt itself so many times, from our sports teams to our public transportation system to our nightlife.
We break, we heal, and we rise again.
This is Pittsburgh. This is our city. This is my home.