Sometimes when I walk around a new city, a part of it gives me nostalgia for the city in my head. The city in my head is a city I love. It’s constructed of images of buildings and streets and different positions of the sun in the sky. It’s a city I’ve constructed over years, probably from, to be honest, dreams and false childhood memories. Still I like to think that it’s a real city that I’ve been to long ago, and could visit again, and it’s just that I’ve forgotten which one it is.
I do know that I forgot about Pittsburgh. I lived there several years ago. I was in school, and it was a hard time for me, so at first I didn’t like the city. Then I started to love it, just as a place. I even remember wandering around Pittsburgh itself and it reminding me of the city in my head. But I squash that thought and plow on thinking that Pittsburgh might actually be the city itself.
I got really excited when I realized that I might have remembered which city was the city in my head. So much that I found an excuse to go back to visit Pittsburgh — a sweet-looking conference there in June. I’ve been researching neighborhoods and Airbnbs all weekend, dropping the orange man onto a dozen places on Street View. The street view images are only increasing my hopes of Pittsburgh being the city, though I’m realistic enough to know that the photos are deceptively sunny, which Pittsburgh is not.
Needless to say, my mind is in Pittsburgh today. I was hanging out in a cafe this morning (I’m still here). My back was to the window, but I could feel the overcast sky and heat. Without thinking about it, I thought I was in Pittsburgh. Then words from the next table filtered in. “UX designer”. My location sensor spun into limbo and then San Francisco faded in, kind of like the jQuery fadeIn() animation, I thought, which brought me completely back.
I continued writing, but a bit later, I turned to look out the window at San Francisco. It was sunny now, and there was a man sitting at the table outside reading a book. There was a white parrot on his shoulder and he was petting it as he turned a page. The parrots eyes seemed to be closed in happiness. A few minutes later the parrot engaged in a squawking battle, intimidating a pigeon out of encroaching on them. I just hope they have those in Pittsburgh.