Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Four Seasons in the 'Burgh - Part Two

Fireworks over Point State Park on July 4th

Summer:  What we grow up with tends to become our "normal".  Normal for me is the dry air in Montana.  Which is great until you touch the handle on the freezer case in the grocery store and feel like you just stuck your finger in a light socket, pull a sweater over your head only to find that half your air is now standing straight up, or you're giving yourself moisturizing facials at 17.  But, there are a lot of advantages to it, primarily that when it's hot it's just hot, not boiling, and cold doesn't chill you straight through to the bone.  So, when I came to Austin, I spent the first few weeks feeling as though I had constantly just stepped out of the shower and everything I touched felt wet.  So, when Mother moved back to Pennsylvania and would call to complain about the humidity, Greg and I would just shake our heads and have a good laugh.  Well, Mother, I owe you an apology.  The humidity in the City of Rivers is a killer in the summer.  I should have figured that out actually - there really are major bodies of water all around here - they didn't just build all these bridges to confound me.   But, for all I thought I knew about Pittsburgh before moving here, that one caught me by unpleasant surprise.  And it does get hot here.  As sticky miserable as I was on occasion, at least I was not galavanting around town in a rubber bat suit.  I cannot even imagine what hell the cast and crew of The Dark Knight Rises had to go through.  But, my cousin had told me there would be about two weeks during both the summer and winter where the weather is hard to handle, and that seemed to be born out, it just so happened that during that time was when Marissa and I had to go pretend to be sitting at a winter sport and spend 12 hours in black wool under a blazing sun.  However, hopefully that will result in my being a small part of something historic.  And, two weeks of sauna hot weather is nothing compared to months of it back in Texas.  So, now I know and will be mentally prepared for it next year.
From MTV.com:  Batman is saying, "I am SO hot, that's not snow it's sweat!"
And next year I hopefully won't be standing on the precipice of financial ruin.  Because if I was fearful in the winter, I was terrified in the summer.  The drain of trying to maintain two households and then fund the requisite repairs and expenses to get the house in Texas closed finally caught up to us in July.  I often think of that time and realize how extraordinarily lucky we were, but it didn't feel like it at the time.  We were well served by two terrific Realtors, both here to find this house and in Texas when our Realtor, Cella Lancaster, had to try and broker the deal with us clear across the country.  I got sick one weekend, had my phone off and didn't check my email, and nearly blew the deal.  There were so many twists and turns like that, with the buyers wanting expensive repairs (that I don't blame them for - I would've done the same), that it was incredible that the deal went off.  And to have a buyer that fast at all was nothing short of a little miracle.  A beautiful house just down the road from us went on the market months before I left.  It is still for sale.  I know we had angels on our shoulders, but that was a stressful, stressful time that strained all of us.  I was happy, frankly, to get summer behind us.
Best Part of Summer:  Training Camp

Marissa, me and 65K of our neighbors
Fall:  And besides, I was chomping at the bit to experience my first fall in three decades.  And, in the Steeler Nation, autumn is not really a season, football is.  The other stressor of summer was the lock-out.  Would I have moved all this way only to find myself thwarted?  What truly cruel irony that would be.  But, fortunately, it ended.  And in time for a full training camp.  I think we all saw fallout from the lack of mini-camps and coordinated work-outs:  injuries in training camps that were unusual, the timing between QB's and their receivers was rusty at first, rookies in particular were behind the eight-ball, but we had a full season in front of us.  And, for the first time in my very long tenure as a die hard fan, I was in the midst of it from start to finish.  Of course, if one wants to participate in an expensive sport, one must either work for a living or win the lottery.  So, initially, I would find myself pouting because I was missing this appearance or that one, and I wanted to be wherever the players were.   Finally, I settled in to where I think most local fans are mentally:  there are enough appearances and events that I could get my fill and still actually do my job.  And some of the stardust wore off a little after a while, I confess, and I didn't feel the need to see them outside the stadium.  I was content to see them play on Sunday.  Of all the things I have come to love in this city, feeling comfortable inside Heinz Field because I've been there so many times is among the greatest.

For Greg, it was different.  He is the opposite of me in many respects.  For instance, I have put all my emotions out here for anyone to see.  I don't even really know what he thinks about being so far away from the only home he's known; he really won't elaborate.  I look for clues and make guesses, but that's all they are.  Whatever he's feeling, he's the only one who can say for absolute certainty.  But, one thing I can say:  life without his football teams being a sure view was not to his liking.  He thought he could do it.  Moreover, I think he really bought into that whole America's Team thing and thought Dallas would be on most weeks.  Not here, bub.  Missing the Longhorns was probably worse.  They were actually on air more than I thought they would be, but not always - even at sports bars.  I think one of the things we all love about our sports affiliations is that it connects us back to our roots, so he was a tree with no roots.  How long can one last like that?  Well, he's made it through one season...  But, at least he didn't have to worry about his team being torn asunder by earth-shattering controversy.

I have not blogged about the whole Penn State situation because it is beyond tragic and my feelings were complicated.  I have, however, shed many a tear over it.  I have wept for the victims, I have wept for the young men on the team now who paid a heavy price for something they had no hand in.  I wept for the families whose lives have been shattered, and I have wept for Joe Paterno.  I am not affiliated with Penn State in any way, but I have always loved JoePa.  I never knew a time when he wasn't on the sideline for Penn State, and I have watched them since I was young because I loved that tradition and loyalty.  When life was so nightmarish for me over the last decade, this was stability personified.  So, I wept a little about that too I guess.  We talked about going to a game, knowing that I would have limited time to see him coach in person.  Lesson in life:  don't wait too long to pursue your bucket list, because you never know when the bucket will get tipped over.  I would have cried those tears no matter where I lived, but this was near Ground Zero and you could practically feel the earth shake when the story broke.  The tremors will likely continue for some time.  Nothing will be as it was.  An era has passed, but not passed so much as been flung violently into flames.

Early fall at the cemetery

Life is forever like that, ebbs and flows, peaks and valleys.  They seemed particularly steep and wild this year,  sometimes I felt as though I was just hanging on for dear life, but it was quite the unique ride.  Next post:  what 2011 taught me.

No comments:

Post a Comment