Penned last night in an empty steno on my coffee table waiting to be filled with notes for a soon-due project I haven’t started yet.
This was in a package I had delivered to my house late last month. Something I ordered or whatever — not important. It’s been sitting on my kitchen table ever since. I see it every day, every time I walk past – when I leave, when I come in, when I occasionally make dinner. I haven’t moved it, but I haven’t been able to ignore it, either.
For about a month, I had the overwhelming urge to leave. I don’t mean that figuratively, so don’t call in the professionals. I mean literally. I wanted to be anywhere but Pittsburgh, but Allegheny County, but Pennsylvania. But North America, even.
I needed to leave for South Africa. To Cambodia. To the United Arab Emirates. To somewhere that wasn’t here. That didn’t take me through the North Side, down East Carson Street, to the office or up my stairs and into my apartment.
I needed to pretend this place never existed. That it wasn’t a part of me.
And for a while, I did. I let myself think this wasn’t home anymore. And I was miserable.
It is a thought that has been on my mind for more than two months now, and it was a thought that I was going to have to make a concrete decision on. Because sometimes you do dumb things when you’re sad – like convince yourself you need to leave.
Nowhere has felt like home since I was 19 and forced out of the house and yard and woods I grew up in – my rope swing and swimming pool and the place where my cat and hamster were buried and the back roads I grew up racing down.
Nowhere had felt like home since then. I lived in my parents’ new house and a college dorm, an apartment with my high school best friend and my aunt’s basement, and a house with three other people, one of whom went on to throw a cookie sheet at my head and kill me off in her ‘novel.’
Then I moved to Pittsburgh – really moved to Pittsburgh. Like, into the city with a real city address and nowhere to park and a city councilman down the street. It still didn’t feel like home.
But then, it did.
Because I stopped being sad and scared, and I talked to people and fell in love with them and this city and the place I get to work at every day. I got a dog who is my soul, and I met people who changed my life and me as a person. Into my life came people who look out for me and worry about me and cheer for me just because they care – just because they care unconditionally.
It’s an unfathomable phenomenon for me, to be honest – for someone to throw a rope just because they cared enough to do so.
It’s something you become cognizant of when you think about leaving.
And so it all came to a head as I sat around realizing that these people in my life don’t just accept me, don’t just tolerate me, but they like me and kind of actually want me around and sort of maybe even enjoy me as a person. And it blows my mind, because family is something that is more difficult to come by in my life than others. It’s not a feeling I’m used to. It’s not a “woe is me”-type deal – it’s just a fact.
I hurt and I wanted to run away from it to make it stop. I won’t pretend that wasn’t a part of everything that has gone through my mind in the past two months. It was. A lot of you know that.
More of you than I like to think, really, because let’s be honest – most of the people in my life are journalists.
And also not stupid.
But what’s done is done, the past is past, ashes to ashes and every other cliché. We’ll pretend I’m fully over it, but we’ll know I really will be someday soon. I see that now.
And so I looked around at all of these people who like me and care about me and worry and go to bat for me, who want me to succeed just because they do and who buy me drinks and listen when I talk and talk to me like a real person, not a kid or an intern or a student or someone just to be tolerated.
Some who, I would like to think, would miss me if I was in South Africa or Cambodia or the United Arab Emirates. Maybe.
How could I leave that.
I don’t wanna have to click my ruby shoes and wish I was home (doesn’t help that Maggie ate my red flats and the others I wore through a flood) – I want to be home, even if it’s a place that hurts sometimes, and even if some places in it still make me sad. Because it’s home.
Because it’s home.