Hello, dear ones. I just wanted to stop by and explain the reason for my silence this last week and a half. It’s because I moved last Wednesday. That’s right, I have left New Orleans, my boozy mistress, my heart of tempestuous hearts, the city-love of my life.
And moved to Pittsburgh.
I’ve heard very divided opinions on my new home. Some people say it’s great–the cost of living is relatively low, they have a great farmer’s market and a burgeoning arts community, it’s gosh-darn beautiful with those rivers converging at the base of Mt. Washington–and then some people refer to it as Shitsburgh. I’m hoping for the former.
The reason I left the city I love so much is, goddamnit, for the man I love so much. My matrimonial finalist (a.k.a. fiancé, who readers will have seen referred to somewhat prematurely as Mr. Claire) has technically lived in Pittsburgh the whole time and has just been traveling back and forth and slumming around at my place in New Orleans whenever he could for a really long time. So now I have finally joined him in the cold, white, steely, Steelers-y North, because he has a job and I don’t–or I do but I can do it wherever–so his locale trumps mine. I will not be resentful about this.
I am trepidatious (I’m making it a word) about this move for several reasons, one of which is leaving my best friend/platonic soul mate Sara behind in New Orleans, which is even as I write this tearing huge chunks of still-beating meat from my heart, and the other is leaving the South, which is all I’ve ever known. This last one is perhaps unfounded, as I’ve known lots of Yankees and they’re pretty cool. But still. Birmingham, Nashville, New Orleans–those are my homes. Pennsylvania? When I was little, that’s where I thought Dracula lived.
A strange side effect of this move is I find myself consciously trying to make my Southern accent deeper. I barely have one, a result of growing up in a metropolitan area and trying REALLY REALLY HARD to talk like the normal people on TV. I’ve had people from all over express disbelief that I could possibly be born and bred in Alabama, and when they’d say that, I would feel a huge swelling of pride at not seeming to be from where I’m actually from. I tried so hard for so many formative years to tamp down that twang–and succeeded–because I was ashamed of my birthplace, of the stigma it gave me. But now I find myself wanting to amp up the accent, lay it on as thick as I can. And why is that, you ask? I’ve been thinking about this, and I’ve realized it’s because I don’t want to give up my roots. I love the South deeply (deeply!) for so many reasons, and I also hate it for just as many. But it’s all I know of home. It’s what made me, for better or for worse, and I refuse to bury that. And you know what? I love it. I do. I’m not, like, rooting for the South to rise again and whatnot, but it will always be my home. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Turns out, however, I can’t do a very good Southern accent.
So after four and a half days of travel in that last week (two up to Pitt with the U-haul and my car, a flight back down to New Orleans, and then another two-day drive back up to Pittsburgh with Mr. Claire’s truck), I am finally home(?!) here in Pittsburgh. I never thought I’d be so glad to be here. I also think I’ve developed a Pavlovian reaction to cars now in which I do everything possible not to get in them.
I will probably write more about the moving cross-country experience later, but right now I’m still busy unpacking and trying to adjust. So far Pittsburgh seems very cool. The topography has me enchanted. It’s so nice to have hills and curves again after the ubiquitous flatness of New Orleans, where the road only curved if it encountered water. It reminds me of my hometown, which, being in the foothills of the Appalachians, had its fair share of hills and winding roads. Pittsburgh also has many MANY more vegetarian options at restaurants than New Orleans, where you would ask if there was anything vegetarian, and they would say, “Yes, we have crab cakes.” (I’m not strictly vegetarian. I just don’t really like meat that much, like other people don’t like broccoli or spinach.) And in the grocery store closest to our apartment, there are fruits and vegetables I have never heard of before and a very sufficient ethnic foods section. Oh, and a MASSIVE cheese selection. This is very exciting for me.
So, in conclusion, it breaks my heart to leave New Orleans, but I’m also excited about exploring this new place. Really, though, if I’m honest, right now it’s mostly the broken heart. However, as an old friend of mine pointed out not too long ago, I’m fortunate to have lived in all these different places. I’m no jet-setting world traveler, but I’ve got living in four different states under my belt. I met people in New Orleans who had never left Louisiana, and there are plenty of people I know from high school who are still living in Birmingham and will maybe never leave. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with staying in your hometown–that’s what my mother did, and she has never regretted it. But I also recognize that living in all these different cities and getting to know the diverse people in them is something really special, and something a lot of people never get to experience.
So as much as it hurts to leave, I’m happy to do it.
I’m pretty darn lucky, ain’t I? (Southern accent, y’all!)