Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Year in Pittsburgh

View of downtown Pittsburgh from MountWashington
(Author's photo)

I still can't believe I have been in Pittsburgh for over a year. Since July 2010. I'm not quite sure that we knew what to expect. Well, I think I have some idea what I expected but I no longer see it that way. And I shouldn't have seen it that way. Let me explain.

Pittsburgh is a mere 5-5 1/2 hours from my old home in Michigan but it seems a lot further away since you have to travel through Ohio to get to Pennsylvania from Michigan; not to mention the fact that it's also another state altogether.

Chatham Village, Mount Washington, Pittsburgh
(Author's photo)

When I first got here, I tried to fill my life with all of my old habits and recreational activities that I enjoyed back home: playing my flute in a flute choir as well as a community band, getting quickly hired in at least a part-time librarian position, and living with the same furniture and possessions as in my old house. None of these things happened. What's more, it took me a lot longer to learn my way around the city than I originally thought without getting hopelessly (read: crying) lost. So when those things didn't go my way (flute choir practices on a weekday I can't make, the closest community band is a lot more advanced than I'm prepared for, it took me over 6 months to find a job, and most of our stuff has been donated because it just doesn't fit in our new tiny space), I felt pretty scared and then angry and impatient with myself for not handling it better.

Downtown Pittsburgh
(Author's photo)

But I'm always hard on myself. It's a huge fault that I'm really trying to correct the older I get. (I hope it doesn't take much longer because I'm already 43). I should have cut myself more slack because I have never lived in another state besides Michigan. It's hard. And it's probably harder the older you get. Maybe if I had done this twenty years ago...

But things are better now. I've got a full-time job at the top public library in the city, Jim's job is going well while he's also pursuing his MBA, we live in a gorgeous park-like cooperative right in the city of Pittsburgh, and we have a shared goal: to save as much money as possible to move back to Michigan someday. Yes, that's right. We already know we want to go back home even though we've been here only a year. And by living small here, we've realized we don't ever want a big living space again filled with needless stuff. Because I don't miss any of the stuff I've given away. (I lost an earring on a walk the other day, and I didn't care! I have lots of other earrings to wear).

Unfortunately, I no longer play my flute. What little time I have left in my day is spent writing, reading, walking, practicing yoga, cooking, and house chores. But I'm coming to terms with it. It was right for the time I had with my part-time job in Michigan but it no longer fits my life here.

Lake Erie, Presque Isle State Park, Erie, PA
(Author's photo)

When we go back home, we want to live very close to the Big Water so, even though we'll be moving back to Michigan, we won't be in the same area as family and friends. We'll be in the same state though!


  1. Good reflection on our first year here. We are always learning new things about ourselves!

  2. I'm also a Michigander and lived in Pittsburgh for a little while. It was tough ... not sure why. Just very different I guess. Back in Michigan now, and the only place I'm relocating to again is somewhere warm!