Bon Jovi wrote in a song, “Who says you can’t go home?” He’s right. No matter how old you are, you can.
At 35, I still consider Pittsburgh, the city I grew up in, home, and I will always have a piece of my heart there, despite living somewhere else, now, for the past eleven years.
A place can definitely be one of your true loves.
In 2005, I graduated college. I was young. I had no huge responsibilities keeping me tied down. I had a piece of paper that said I could teach Secondary English, and the world was wide open for me to explore. If I stayed where I grew up, I’d most likely have to sub for a little while, as teaching jobs, in great schools, were hard to come by quickly. I wanted a career, right away, not working as a substitute. I knew I’d have to move for that to happen.
I looked out of the area, but close enough that I could come back home, by car, in less than five hours.
I ended up applying for a position in Maryland. Five hours away. My maximum distance. I got the job.
That first year was rough. Not only was I trying to navigate my role as a teacher to eighth graders, but I was homesick. Beyond homesick.
Everything was different. The rural, countryside was much different from the urban setting of Pittsburgh I knew and understood so well. The people were different. The way they said “soda” instead of “pop” was different. Their slower pace, compared to the rush of city life was different. I couldn’t handle it very well. I cried almost daily. I began, halfway through the year, researching teaching positions back home, which I could use as a one-way ticket out of there. I counted down the days until the end of the school year. My heart belonged in Pittsburgh, and with my family there, and I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of Maryland.
Toward the end of that first year, I paused. I hesitated about my decision to resign. For some reason, I felt like a quitter. You only did this for one year. Of course it was hard. You dealt with moody teenagers. Why don’t you try again, and see how you do with more experience, then move back? Move back after a successful year.
So, I went back. I continued driving to Pittsburgh, every chance I g0t, dreaming about making the move permanently. I grew as a teacher. I got better. I began to love it; love that grade; love that age; love my position.
My second year ended, and I told myself that after three years, I was considered a “tenured teacher”. This will look really good on paper, I told myself. Teach three years, then move back.
That was back in 2008. The same year I met the love of my life. The man I would end up marrying in 2011.
It’s 2016, and I still live in Maryland.
I still live in Maryland, but it’s not home to me. It’s not where my entire heart is. Yes, I married a Maryland boy, and ended up beginning my adventure of raising a family here, but it’s.not.home.
I really can’t explain it to anyone, unless they, too, understand those feelings. There are certain aspects of my new state, my new city, which I love, but it’s as if a missing piece to the puzzle is lost. When I come up to Pittsburgh, it’s completely different.
The pieces all fit together. I feel complete. I have a wonderful sense of familiarity, and love every aspect of the culture, the tradition, and the people.
While visiting a couple of weeks ago, I enjoyed myself immensely and quickly sunk back into the sights and sounds of it all, as if I’d never been gone.
Part of my heart holds on to the dream of living in the “City of Champions” once again, but another piece, perhaps the more logical side, tries to shush the other, willing it to accept reality.
Maybe this is the way fate worked out, and I’m meant to stay, despite my longing for what I had. My husband is completely established in his career, moving toward “partner”, and together, he and I have definitely made this our home. He’s not a selfish man, but I would never ask him to give up what he has achieved, what it’s given us, for an address change.
I tell myself a trip up can be done in a weekend, I don’t have to get on a plane, and that really is better than nothing.
In life, we sometimes travel down paths, not having a clue about where they’re taking us. We blindly take the leap, trusting our faith or instincts. I never could have imagined living in Maryland for this long, but who knows, perhaps this was all part of my life’s blueprint.
And, hey, at least we have AMAZING crab here, not something I could get back in Pittsburgh! (If you’ve never had it, trust me, you have to come visit and eat some!)