“Pittsburgh is home now.”
I said that a lot in the three years since I moved to the “Steel City”. It was the truth though. I felt very much disconnected from Maryland, the place I grew up in, where I made friends. But it was also the place where I made some terrible decisions, the place that I had to leave once my Dad left Earth. I had no business being there, my connections to it all were gone. Gone with my Dad and there I was gone to other places, leaving what I thought was home behind.
I love Pittsburgh. It’s the place where I found God. It’s the place where I found a community of people who cared about me, who wanted me to win. My first job in the non-profit arena, a place I had dreams of belonging, happened here. The north side of the city, the side you see during aerial shots of football and baseball games, is where I live. It’s my neighborhood. Neighborhoods were I felt accepted, where Black folk embraced me before I could even get a word out otherwise.
It is my place for recovery. I was dragged here when my vices became too much. It’s the place I wanted to go back to even when everything in the universe was telling me otherwise. When my Aunt passed away, I had the community here to welcome me back. Nothing welcomed me back to DC. No one could convince me to come back. There was no reason to.
Until I had to.
My best friend is getting married. She is truly my ace, my love. I’ve known that girl for almost 15 years, no doubt we’re bonding together for life. She asked me to be a bridesmaid and of course, I had to come through. But when she said that the first event was back in Maryland, I winced.
I hadn’t been back since everything happened. Not that Maryland, the place, had any bad experiences attached to it but it’s what it represented. For me, this was last place I lived that gave me some semblance of peace before everything shattered. But it’s also the place that I ran from because I didn’t want any piece of it anymore. And it’s the place that started my coping mechanisms which led me into oblivion. I never drank so much in my life. I never had dudes running in and out of a house like that in my life.
But in its way, it still had the things that I clamored for the most. Best friends were there, love was there. The cultural cues that made me stand out in Pittsburgh were there. It was my home.
See, I call it home. But yet, I forgot what it felt like. I didn’t acknowledge it as such because what I thought “home” was supposed to be.
But it’s that.
I didn’t want to leave. That bus ride back to Pittsburgh gutted me because I left DC so full.