Moving to Pittsburgh
Have you ever heard the phrase "going out on a limb? That is just what moving to Pittsburgh felt like for me. I came here with no plan, and no safety net, and found my home waiting for me.
I was born and raised on a farm in the hills of West Virginia. The road in front of the house was a quarter mile away, and saw maybe ten trucks worth of traffic a day. I didn't want to be a farmer, a soldier, or a coal miner, but those were the careers all my role models had chosen. I knew I'd need a lot of education to do anything else. So, by the time I graduated from high school, I had read almost every nonfiction book in its one room library. My bookishness and open mind did not make me very popular, there. I desperately wanted to see more of the world.
I was fortunate to have access to a computer, and the internet when I was a teenager in the early 90's. ...view middle of the document...
I’m not one to keep material things for sentimental reasons, so I can’t show you the actual jacket... but this one is just like it, even the same color. When I stepped off the bus in Pittsburgh, there was thick snow on the ground, something I'd only rarely seen back home. And yet, the city seemed to be running at its full pace, despite an accumulation that would have shut down my hometown. That was only the first of a long series of surprises that the city had in store for a farm boy like me. I learned that even when you have read everything there is to read about an experience, it is never the same as actually living it.
I had thought that, despite my upbringing in the rural South, that I had managed not to absorb prejudices common to the area. It isn't that I actively held differences against people, but neighborhoods were totally segregated back in WV, and even though everyone went to the same schools, people mostly only socialized within racial groups. Here, I learned that black and white people actually lived in the same apartment buildings, and that there were countless other cultures and subcultures that I'd never encountered at all. I enjoyed the opportunity to learn from all the new people around me. It did take a little getting used to, to avoid casually saying something offensive to a new friend, by repeating things I'd been taught as a child that turned out not to be true.
I hadn't planned on staying in Pittsburgh for more than a month, and then moving along to the next place. I figured on eventually going back to WVto try to find a way to pay for college. I found, when that month was up, that I couldn't bring myself to leave. It took me a lot longer to get my feet under me here than it would have there, but I've never regretted my leap of faith. It has been a decade and a half now, and I am still learning and growing.
Moving to Pittsburgh was a choice that a kid I once was made on a whim, and yet it was probably the best decision that I ever made. Though, as you can see, I still haven’t fully accepted the necessity of a proper winter coat. Thank you.