I was just giving directions to friend who’s visiting Steubenville University in OH with his high school senior daughter. They have a few hours to kill tomorrow before the plane trip back and he wanted to know what were “the not to miss things to do in Pittsburgh.” I thought of an incline ride and a view from Mount Washington or the Carnegie Museum or the Strip District (not that kind of strip) and then went on-line to get him directions with actual street names, as I navigate by land marks. Good if you live some place and are familiar, a recipe for getting very lost if you’re not.
As this friend is uberefficient, he was looking at a detailed map while talking with me, and the first land mark he mentioned, was Magee Women’s Hospital where my sister and I were birthed. And I was caught up in wave of bitter sweet homesickness that was almost palatable. My mind started racing back through my life, being little living in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill, the Jewish section of town. I remembered my dad carrying me on my shoulders, down the hill past Poli’s to a great little Jewish deli for bagels and lox. Talking about sights in the Golden Triangle (where the three rivers come together ) reminded me where my dad parked his car for like 20 years along the river that would get flooded out, but never flooded where he parked because he’d studied the flood plane. It was risky, but “if you investigate and pay attention you can save yourself $5 week.” He’d tell us. The semiannual treks to “down town” on the bus to visit dad at his office and go to lunch at the Top of the Triangle or some other really cool restaurant. And as I made these comments with joy and some tears in my voice, my friend said ” it sounds like you had a lot of good times with your dad growing up.”
I began thinking that a big part of a place always being home is not so much the place itself, but the people you were with when you lived there. As I type this tears are flowing down my face, because after I got off the phone I remembered the last place I was with my dad – Allegheny Cemetery. I like living where we do now and we’ve been blessed with so many wonderful friends, and experiences we wouldn’t have had if we’d have stayed at home… but it’s nice to know that in the span of one conversation “you can take the home from the girl, but not the girl from her home.”