I read a Saturday Diary in the Post-Gazette a few months ago about how Pittsburghers don't really know where Pittsburgh is.
The writer said we think we're in the Midwest, but we're really in the East because we were one of the original 13 colonies. And we don't think and act like true Midwesterners.
It seemed like a fruitless exercise to me because, like the kids in the Charlie Brown Christmas special, it misses the point. To riff Linus, if I may, "I can tell you where Pittsburgh is, Charlie Brown."
My folks moved to Sarasota, Fla., some years ago. Everybody living in Sarasota has moved there from elsewhere. There are actually only six native-born Sarasotans still there, and they pretty much keep to themselves. Also, it's settled law that to move to Sarasota, you or your spouse must be at least 70 years old.
Point is that my dad joined a golf club down there, and when I'd visit we'd shoot the breeze with the rest of the gang after the round. When I'd ask where they were from, I'd get, "Over on Longboat Key. ... Siesta Key. ... Down the road in Venice. ... We have a place in Bradenton." And so on.
But people from these environs invariably answered, "Pittsburgh. Well, actually a little place outside of Pittsburgh (Aspinwall, Squirrel Hill, Green Tree, etc.)."
My daughter and I were in Cambridge, Mass., some time ago and were trying to get to St. Paul's Church for Mass one Saturday evening. And we couldn't find it. I tried to stop four or five people and they all either ignored me or brushed me off.
Then along came a lady who gave off a different vibe, so I asked her. She responded, "Well, it's on a side street that's tricky to get to. Look, I'm going that way. Why not walk along with me and I'll show you."
I said, "Gee, that's the way we do it in Pittsburgh."
She laughed and said, "I'm from Pittsburgh. Well, I've been here for about 10 years, but I'm from the South Side."
My son and his wife were visiting my daughter in Washington, D.C., and they were doing the monuments tour. At the Lincoln Memorial, Rebecca wanted a picture of the three of them, so she asked a lady if she would take one. "Sure."
She snapped one in front of Abe, showed it to Beck to see if it looked OK, and then suggested one in front of the Gettysburg Address, then one with the reflecting pool in the background, and then a few others.
Beck finally said, "Gee, thanks, I think that's plenty. It's so nice of you to take so many, because my brother and his wife are down from Pittsburgh, where I'm from originally, and we wanted to have --"
"Really?! I'm from the North Hills."
And if the Big Guy is beneficent to the wife and me, one day we will live in Scottsdale, Ariz. And if anybody asks me where I'm from, I'll say, "Pittsburgh. Actually, west of there in a place called Moon Township."
And that's where Pittsburgh is. You carry it around with you no matter where you happen to be residing or visiting. Pittsburgh is more a state of mind than a place, so Pittsburgh -- kinda like God -- is everywhere.
Wherever you are is where Pittsburgh is.
I had a patient who traveled the world for work. And since we both love the Steelers, inevitably we'd get around to that. He had just come back from China, so just for a goof I said, "I hear you can find a Steelers bar everywhere. How 'bout Beijing?"
He said, "Well, there's two. But one's a lot better than the other."
James F. Cataldi of Moon, a retired dentist, can be reached at email@example.com The PG Portfolio welcomes "Local Dispatch" submissions and other reader essays. Send your writing to firstname.lastname@example.org; or by mail to Portfolio, Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh PA 15222. Portfolio editor Gary Rotstein may be reached at 412-263-1255.