I have come to realize, now that I am back in the ‘Burgh, what a very positive experience it is to live elsewhere for awhile. Like Rumspringa for Western Pennsylvanians, a stint in the Diaspora gives one the chance to choose, one way or the other, and that is a very powerful transforming opportunity.
For me, anyway, I feel as though I’m seeing everything familiar with new eyes, because I’ve chosen it. I know what color the grass is on the other side of the fence (green), and I decided to come back to this side.
There actually is a lot of power in that. Power to make Pittsburgh a better place for the people who haven’t chosen it yet. When you put yourself behind something because you chose it, not just because it’s what you’ve always known, you’re invested in it in new ways. When you choose, you’re making a stand. And you want the things you stand for to be strong and succeed.
Sometimes it can be a tough choice. Living away is different. Living away in the West is very different. And living away in one of America’s darlings of growth and youthfulness (Austin, Charlotte, Portland…) is very, very different. Just like you sort of suspect, if you’ve never lived outside the area, that it would be. And no matter what I say, or what these guys say, or these guys, or this guy, there’s no way to know if you will find it different/good or different/bad.
Not without seeing it for yourself.
So. I think you should go see it. I do.
I’m telling you, maybe you should go away for awhile. In the hopes that by leaving, you will become one of the (hopefully) legions of diasporans who are choosing to return. Bringing with them the lessons of elsewhere, and the fire to keep making Pittsburgh worthy of the choice we made.