It’s almost November. We have yet to “fall back,” so the world is dark and quiet still outside of the windows in my dining room, where I have set up to write each morning before the family rumbles to life on the floors above me. This time has become increasingly important, as life here in Pittsburgh proceeds at a much faster pace for me than it used to. We’re just shy of four months into this new adventure, and I’m finally ready to start reflecting on it.
The abridged version (abridged like my email and text messages to faraway friends; like the phone calls to my mother; the narratives of “how was your day” that Paul and I share between running off to tend to the next thing) is that we are happy and Pittsburgh is good!
The kids are thriving at their school, which is three doors away, making friends, joining the Chess club, even! They are loving the close proximity of neighbor kids who share our backyard and arrive, sometimes with polite knocks, sometimes not, at our back door at any hour of day to play. I love this so much! It reminds me of my childhood in Kentucky and I had honestly thought no such thing existed these many years later. How lovely to be wrong!
Paul is in a groove with teaching his online classes and his film writing class. He has discovered Jerry’s Records just down the block on Murray Avenue, and has designated Tuesdays as “Art Day,” busing around the city to different museums, or walking through Frick Park with his camera.
And I am every day pinching myself that I have landed in a place that values the arts, writing, and my professional efforts in very tangible ways. I am learning so much. I am surely making some mistakes. It’s overwhelming, to be honest, but everyone around me is patient and compassionate and keeps reminding me that it’s fine, it’s normal to feel this way. To be wired and nervous this first year in a new job. Learning curve. Whew! I’ll get there.
My students, too, are terrific and patient. I get to work very closely with some really engaged low-res students, and working with the full-res students to put out the next volume of The Fourth River literary journal. I am impressed constantly with their insights and vision for the magazine. We are very much in this together and it’s exciting and affirming: I made the right choice in coming here.
Before we moved in July, Paul and I did a lot of PR for Pittsburgh with the kids. We wanted them to anticipate all the neat things the city has going on. One of the biggest things we discovered–and by “big” I mean 54 feet-big–was the Giant Yellow Duck, which arrived on September 27, courtesy of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.
Since probably March of last year, we held fast to the idea of that duck, a giant yellow beacon, something we could point to with the kids and say, “Look how fun our new city, our new home is going to be!”
We’ve had a lot of fun in the ‘Burgh since our arrival in July. Natural History and art museums. Science centers and conservatories. The zoo on more than one occasion. But damn if we didn’t almost miss the duck! The weekends just get away from us here. We finally got ourselves down to Point Park on the duck’s final day. Blue sky and chilly, throngs of duck-lovers like us.
And the duck, she did not disappoint!