October 9, 2011


so, me and Pittsburgh go way back.

i first visited the city in 1996, when a friend moved there for seminary. the next summer, i met/re-met some of the kids in his youth group at Cornerstone and had a great time with them. then in 1997, one of my favorite families decided to move to Pittsburgh to become youth workers up there. somewhere along the way, i developed a crush on one of those youth group boys, and a nondescript pamphlet arrived at my house. the brochure was for a small college tucked away in Northeastern PA, an hour north of Pittsburgh. it was a really similar education/experience as other schools i was considering... at less than half the price. incoming freshman received their own laptop & printer upon matriculation that was theirs to keep. it was in "The North", which is where most urbane Southern kids planned to flee. it was close to people who were really important to me. and i didn't find this out until later, but the aforementioned boy had also decided to go there. so needless to say, it felt meant to be. :)

i did get a great education there, and developed some lifelong friendships along the way. i also developed a lifelong love of that great steel city, and for years after graduating i would venture back to visit Pittsburgh and see friends who had landed there. but after leaving the job that allowed for annual 3 week cross-country road trips, the PGH visits ended in 2006.

so it had been 5 years since i had last been there, which might explain the misty eyes that occured as we emerged from the Fort Pitt tunnel into the glory of downtown! rivers! bridges! it's such a great "poof here's the city" moment, and in that moment i had the moment where you don't realize how much you love/miss someplace until you're back there again. we were back to attend a wedding (the wedding of my original Pittsburgh crush who is a close friend of ours!) and had planned for 3 days in PGH, a drive to West Virginia to visit some Minnesota friends, and then a couple days in Washington, DC to see some sights and stay with more college friends of mine. for my own posterity, a quick re-cap.

delirious on little sleep- 3 hours for me, 1 hour for matt
hug from Amy in Pittsburgh airport, who was leaving for a weekend in FL
drive straight to Primanti's- good decision. that roast beef and Yuengling perked us up.
walking around strip district, surprised by amount of Steeler swag down there
Mt Washington- enjoying the view, chatting with Limo Rob, who drives THE original limo from the movie The Bodyguard, and a cute old Italian man who's lived there his whole life
emergency nap in Rite Aid parking lot
emergency coffee in Mt. Lebanon at Aldo Coffee
rehearsal dinner at Sesame Inn, reunion with old friends from college and church

breakfast and hanging out with Emily, Jack, and Noa before starting our day
Pamela's diner in Millvale- Pres. Obama was right, those pancakes are amazing.
The Mattress Factory, experimental art installation museum
Cathedral of Learning, to visit the nationality classrooms
meeting Kelly for beers at the Brillobox
enjoying the nighttime view on Mt Washington
bachelor party game night at Kris' house. we mostly played with the cat.

brunch at Dozen
walking along Butler St in Lawrenceville- antique stores, vintage stores, handmade crafty stores
back to get ready for wedding
wedding/reception at St. Paul's, Kris' church in Mt. Lebanon
after party at Kris' house

lazy morning with the Hardings
lunch at Franktuary's food truck at arts market
drive to WV to see Cadys
dinner and Candyland and hair do's with the Cady girls

breakfast with Cadys, drive to DC
stop in at National Zoo to see the elephants, who i used to visit annually
stop at my other favorite spot, the Washington National Cathedral, which was closed due to earthquake damage
memorials- Lincoln, Korean War, MLK, FDR, Washington Monument
*i knew one other person who was going to be in DC that day, and wouldn't you know, we ran into each other at the Lincoln Memorial!
drive to South Riding, dinner and hang out with Leeds, taste Sarah's flavored rums

more memorials- Vietnam, WW2
The White House
walking along the Mall
Smithsonian museums- Natural History, both Galleries of Art, Sculpture Garden
Old Town Alexandria for dinner- delicious brick oven pizza at Red Rocks
late night chatting with Sarah and Rich

Wednesday: drop off rental car, fly home

throughout the trip: many, many people talking about Matt's hair. i forget how forward East Coasters are... "DAAAAAMN" "holy shit dude" "how long you been growing those out?" i am going to make him a shirt that says SIXTEEN YEARS. and then next year i will make him another one that says SEVENTEEN YEARS, and so on.

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