…well, pretty much always, but especially right about NOW. Sorry if any of you gals are Redwings fans…
I drove into da ‘Burgh this afternoon with a giant carload of stuff as part of Operation: Move Someplace, We’re Just Not Sure Where, with the added bonus of watching the Pens with my sister and her boyfriend…and a lot of vodka. Except I get really terminally nervous and superstitious about sports I love (I am not to be lived with for the whole of July while the Tour de France is going on), and I convinced myself that watching the playoffs was bad juju this time around (Game 5? Watched it, and the Pens tanked. I generally ask my sis to text me with updates and I pace and mutter to myself for the duration of the game, no matter where I am). So of course, for Game 7, I was biting my fingernails to the quick for the whole first period.
Then Sid the Kid got NAILED so hard I’m pretty sure he coughed up chunks of his own liver when they finally got him off the ice, and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I put on my running shoes and took off for a late-night run around the track of my old high school. And even after 12 laps, was still so nervous that I did a bunch of sets of stairs just like we used to in Advanced Gym.
I was walking home through the dark neighborhood as the final seconds ticked down and the Penguins became Stanley Cup Champions again. The valley I grew up in was dead silent– not even one car careening down the rollercoaster hills of Cumberland Road– and all the stars glittered in a cloud-streaked, blue-black sky…and then suddenly the whole neighborhood erupted: air horns went off, and roman candles whistled into the air, and from every open window, I could hear the white-noise crackle of cheering on every TV mingling with screen door slams and drunk neighbors lurching onto their porches screaming, YEAAAAAAAHHH PICKSBURGH in Iron City-slurred voices.
I haven’t really lived here for almost ten years and still the mere thought of Pittsburgh wrenches me; it’s like a giant, invisible hand reaches into my chest and just wrings my heart out like a sponge. I confess that sometimes, I Google Image street maps and glossy shots of the city rising from the rivers, bridges lit up and arching over the dark water at dusk, and honest to God, sometimes I weep in front of my computer in a fit of nostalgia.
Tonight, as I walked back to my parents’ house and realized I was headed for a celebration, I felt again the strange, overwhelming tug of affection I have for the city. I loved every person lighting fire to a Hossa jersey on the South Side! Or setting off illegal fireworks in Oakland! Or just dancing in front of their TV! I began to jog, and then skip. I felt a raw streak of kinship for every Pittsburgher ever, alive or dead. I loved all these completely unknown, drunken neighbors! I would not weep like a goddamn pussy, but find a more true-to-life expression for my deep and abiding love of the Steel City, where your fries and your coleslaw come ON your sandwich, and where each hill is a totally different neighborhood, complete with a different language!
I flung myself into the air and whooped; I slammed my fist down on my mother’s mailbox and screamed over the ensuing clang, PITTSBURGH, MOTHERFUCKERS! because there is no joy so violent as the joy of a mean girl from da ‘Burgh whose beloved Pens just kicked Detroit’s ass.