Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Falling in Love

When I first moved to Pittsburgh, I loved all its shiny amenities. I loved the view of its skyline from Mt Washington. I loved the old steel mills re-purposed as shopping malls and night club destinations. I loved the churches re-purposed as restaurants and music venues. Within weeks, I was a rabid Steelers fan.

18 Months later, I knew more about Pittsburgh. It was winter and even though Pittsburgh gets very little snow, the snow it gets completely debilitates the the poorly maintained, ridiculously planned roads. I was beginning to see the chinks in Pittsburgh's armor. But I had also discovered Penn Avenue's Unblurred, dozens of quaint neighborhoods, shopping in the Strip District, and I was in better shape than ever from the built-in stair-masters surrounding my street. I started watching hockey and was crushed when the Penguins were trampled by the Redwings.

Fast-forward another 18 months to today. This year, I've cheered on the Steelers to the Super Bowl and the Penguins to the Stanley Cup. I've also watched rain pour into my 100-year-old fixer-upper, entered dozens of battles of the will with the city's 311 line (often winning), saw the true awful state of the city's pension, and have made some good friends. I'm only finally starting to live in the city. And I'm finally starting to cheer for the Pirates. I've learned their history as a mega-team, and I've accepted that they're bad now. My 13-year-old brother-in-law who lives in Alaska (and is visiting for 3 weeks) has taught me the wonder of buying cheap tickets and sitting in the stands, enjoying a summer day. Every time they win, it's a small victory, just like when I call 311 to fix a street light, and it actually gets fixed. Do I wish that Pittsburgh was more like the Red Sox with loads of money and talent? Of course, I do. But have I grown to love poor old Pittsburgh with its incredible history and transient population? Yup, I have.

Last night, only 11,741 people showed up to cheer the Pirates on to their latest small victory. Tickets start at less than $9. Buy a ticket. And remind yourself why you love this city. Anyone can be a bandwagon fan and root for the Steelers, it takes someone who loves the city to root for the Pirates - or a 13 year-old kid.

No comments: