“The way you got to a place is probably not the way you’ll get home.”
My manager was offering me some advice on navigating the streets of Pittsburgh. And having spent the past two weeks trying to figure out side streets, stoplights and shortcuts, I believe he’s right. Going back down that one way street would not be a good idea. Learning my way around the city has been quite the adventure, and let’s just say I’m thankful my Virginia plates scream, “This girl’s not from here,” to everyone around me.
Being new to the area has meant that I have a lot to learn. While less than 400 miles from home, western Pennsylvania does have a few differences. Here, soda is called pop and sweeping means to vacuum. Here, sales tax on clothes doesn’t exist, but you have to visit two separate places to get your PA driver’s license and register your car in the state. And here, a random man in Giant Eagle will tell you that the celery is 70 cents cheaper at Aldi. (Which, by the way, is both wonderful and weird in America. What’s with the huge jars of peanut butter, and where are my fresh Brezen and quark?)
Okay, while that man may not be characteristic of all of Pittsburgh, I’ve been surprised by the friendliness of most people here. From the drivers who let you make a left turn in front of them, to the cashiers who ensure you get a Giant Eagle card, from the inclusivity of the people at church, to the willingness of my coworkers to answer my one thousand questions, from the many adorable dogs and their owners who wander around Frick Park, to my lovely roommate who listens to all of my rambling thoughts, it feels like all of Pittsburgh is working together to welcome me.
They’re welcoming me to a beautiful city filled with people from all kinds of backgrounds and experiences. A place full of pierogies, Heinz ketchup and French fries on salads. A place where the parkway backs up anytime the Pirates, Penguins or Steelers play at home. And a place with new adventures, opportunities and perspectives just around the corner.
As I lie awake at night, wondering what the next day has in store—and if tomorrow will be the day I understand how to do my job—I’m thankful for where I have been and whom I’ve known. I’m grateful for the people and experiences that have shaped and prepared me for this new journey, knowing I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. While what Pittsburgh will bring is still very much a mystery, I know one thing for certain:
“You never go out the same way you came in.” –“Weathered Souls” by Transit