My wife and I were invited out to dinner recently by longtime friends who had some exciting news to share with us. After spending the last two winters in Florida, they have decided to sell their home here and move to a warmer climate permanently.
The wife was confident that she was ready to go; however, the husband had angst about leaving his family, friends, golf buddies and, most of all, his favorite fishing spots. "I'm just not sure I can leave my hometown and be happy elsewhere," he said.
My wife mentioned that everything he is leaving will still be here, and people can return any time they feel the need.
"Pittsburgh will always be your home," she advised.
That simple and profound statement grabbed him. It was as if Cher herself had slapped him and yelled, "Snap out of it!" His mind cleared with the realization that he could leave Pittsburgh, but his hometown would never leave him.
Additionally, to help make his decision conclusive, there was the threat from his wife that she was going with or without him.
Our discussion continued throughout dinner about rewarding our senior years with travel to places we always wanted to see. We agreed that if palm trees and white sand are your preferences, then you should pack up and go. There are no palm trees on Grant Street and our rivers are not lined with white sand.
We do not have a Golden Gate or Brooklyn Bridge or snow-capped mountains. If you are looking for a home where the buffalo roam and the skies are not cloudy all day, then you should move and not feel bad about leaving.
Pittsburgh has survived for hundreds of years nestled between and around her famous rivers. Immigrants have settled here because this place feels like home, and they have worked here, worshipped here and raised their families here while making it one of the best places to live.
We don't have a famous bridge; we have a family of bridges named for Roberto, Andy, Rachel and David. Our cable cars can climb a mountain, and the scenic views of our city and rivers are spectacular.
I have seen many people move out of Pittsburgh, and wherever they settle they are not far from a Steelers bar or a neighbor who has a tie to Pittsburgh. We have a reputation for hard-working, friendly people who love their sport teams and their city. There are 90 unique neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, and more in the suburbs, and every one has volumes of stories that love to be told by those of us who have lived here.
So load up your belongings and follow your dreams, but some day when your step is a little slower you may return to find that we are still here to welcome you back. Bring along those grandchildren and show them your Pittsburgh. Take in the parks and museums, visit the Strip District and walk along the rivers and under the bridges.
Visit the stadiums where our athletes became our heroes. Show the young ones the smokestacks that belched the fire that melted the ore that made the steel that built the bridges that spanned the rivers all over the nation. When the afternoon wanes, load them onto the incline and ride up Mount Washington and step out onto the observation deck. Watch the trains rumble below and the tugs pushing their barges on the rivers.
Wait for the late afternoon sun to lay golden rays across the buildings and bridges that highlight the Golden Triangle. If you can stay until darkness, everyone will see the lights of the city come alive, a spectacular sight.
Then you can stand tall and grip the rail of the observation deck and proclaim, "Hey, it's good to be back home again."
Alan Meyers of Robinson, a retired construction superintendent and union carpenter, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.