See Yinz: PittGirl Says Goodbye

After writing for seven years about the city for Pittsburgh Magazine and pittsburghmagazine.com, Virginia Montanez is discontinuing her blog and column.



Editor’s Note: After writing for seven years about the city for Pittsburgh Magazine and pittsburghmagazine.com, Virginia Montanez has made the difficult decision to discontinue her “PittGirl” blog and column. We thank her deeply for her invaluable contributions to the magazine — and to the city. A new voice (another Pittsburgh favorite) will appear in this space beginning next month.

T
he thing with Pittsburgh is this: It gets you.

If it doesn’t yet have you, there eventually comes a time when it will reach out ... and get you.

And it will keep you.

No matter how far you wander from it, to the ends of our earth, you will still be gotten.

I don’t know when Pittsburgh got me, but I do know it didn’t always have me. Growing up here, you take things for granted. You cross a bridge. Shoot out of a tunnel. Ride an incline. Eat the salad fries. Take in a Bucs game. Walk a path along the shore. Feel the breeze off the river. Hear a kind voice. Witness a selfless act. Do work. See beauty. Feel love.

Often what regularly surrounds you isn’t fully appreciated until that comforting presence no longer is enveloping you with warm familiarity. When you’re without it, feeling the chill, that’s when you hungrily seek it out with fresh, appreciative eyes.

I went to Texas for four years. Left Pittsburgh behind to study. To get educated. To learn who I was 1,000 miles from a city that didn’t yet have me.

When I came home, I gradually realized Pittsburgh was more than bridges, inclines, rivers and sports. It was a story. A saga. It was a reinvention — scratching and clawing out of the mire of the steel collapse. It was determination. It was lovingly clinging to blue-collar roots. It was pride. It was promise. It was work-weathered hands joining to hold together that which threatened to fall apart. It was strength. It was brains. It was a city on a path to greatness from which it would not stray.

So I walked along that path, and as all of those realizations dawned on me, I stretched out a hand. I learned when you reach out just a bit to Pittsburgh — lean a little, open yourself up — that’s when Pittsburgh reaches for you. That’s when it gets you, and it carries you with it.

When you learn the history, volunteer to help its suffering people, get involved to try to affect a small positive change, create something beautiful and meaningful here ... your eyes open. You realize the richness of the history and how it shaped us into a community of neighborhoods. You become unable to ignore the incredible value and unmatched strength of people who need a little help. You realize the ease with which change can take place, with just a little elbow grease. Your creation is supported and valued and lifted up by others, for others to see and love. Your widened eyes open your softened heart, and Pittsburgh gets you.

That’s how it got me. I learned the history. In my 20s, I often sat alone by the fountain at the Point during lunch. I leaned toward her ... heart open, eyes closed, breeze welcomed. In my 30s, I cared enough to get angry at the aspects that were not what they could be. To help. To feel a burning passion to have any small part in making Pittsburgh into a city unlike any other.

And Pittsburgh had me — really had me and would not let go.

I say this not to sound melodramatic or to wax eloquent, but because it’s the only way I can adequately describe to you my love for our city: Pittsburgh is in my soul. I know it so well, value it so pricelessly, want so much for it that it has become half of me. The rivers course through my veins, the fountain erupts in my heart, the bridges connect all of the parts of my identity, the inclines rise and fall with every breath I take. It is one of the most valuable relationships in my life, and it has shaped me into who and what I am.

When Pittsburgh really has you, you’ll feel that way too.

If it doesn’t already have you, I hope Pittsburgh gets you soon. I hope you’ll lean just a bit toward her. Soften, change, reach, so that she will reach back to you and show you the gleaming glory and character-shaping pain of her past. Why she’s worthy of your hard work to better her, why she’s deserving of you becoming the best, most loving kind of neighbor you can be, and why, once she has you, she’ll take care of you for as long as you take care of her.

Pittsburgh reached out for me. It has got me. It will never not have me, no matter what comes next.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for loving Pittsburgh as much as I do.

I’ll see yinz around the neighborhood.

 

 

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Innovations in Postpartum Depression Treatment, First-Aid Training and Food Security.
Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

The builder of two stadiums, a billion-dollar football business, NFL labor harmony and racial sensitivity, and bridges between constituencies –– he was an everywhere man whose soft, steady hand was felt everywhere.
Restaurant Review: DiAnoia's Eatery Bridges the Gap

Restaurant Review: DiAnoia's Eatery Bridges the Gap

With a little work, the Strip District restaurant could become a Pittsburgh classic.
Pittsburgh at the Forefront of The Brain Revolution

Pittsburgh at the Forefront of The Brain Revolution

Alzheimer’s disease is the most expensive ailment to treat and the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Pittsburgh has become a battleground in the fight against the devastating illness, thanks to the decade-long quest of two Pittsburgh researchers whose work is on track to change the face of medicine and affect millions worldwide.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

New Study: Pittsburgh Drivers are The Worst of the Worst

New Study: Pittsburgh Drivers are The Worst of the Worst

Pittsburgh ties with one other city for having the worst drivers in the nation.
HGTV Series Pilot Focuses on Renovation of Pittsburgh Home

HGTV Series Pilot Focuses on Renovation of Pittsburgh Home

The pilot episode of “Steel City Rehab” follows a Pittsburgh couple as they flip a home in the city’s East End.
‘The Good Wife’s’ Zach Grenier Appears on the Pittsburgh Stage

‘The Good Wife’s’ Zach Grenier Appears on the Pittsburgh Stage

Grenier on playing the dream role of Willy Loman, coming to Pittsburgh and performing at the renowned Pittsburgh Public Theater.
Enjoy a Cocktail to Help Preserve Pittsburgh's Historic Murals

Enjoy a Cocktail to Help Preserve Pittsburgh's Historic Murals

The nearly 80-year-old murals by Maxo Vanka show an immigrant's’ perspective on important issues.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Innovations in Postpartum Depression Treatment, First-Aid Training and Food Security.
Restaurant Review: DiAnoia's Eatery Bridges the Gap

Restaurant Review: DiAnoia's Eatery Bridges the Gap

With a little work, the Strip District restaurant could become a Pittsburgh classic.
Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

The builder of two stadiums, a billion-dollar football business, NFL labor harmony and racial sensitivity, and bridges between constituencies –– he was an everywhere man whose soft, steady hand was felt everywhere.
Pittsburgh at the Forefront of The Brain Revolution

Pittsburgh at the Forefront of The Brain Revolution

Alzheimer’s disease is the most expensive ailment to treat and the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Pittsburgh has become a battleground in the fight against the devastating illness, thanks to the decade-long quest of two Pittsburgh researchers whose work is on track to change the face of medicine and affect millions worldwide.
Dr. Thomas E. Starzl’s Legacy

Dr. Thomas E. Starzl’s Legacy

The “Father of Transplantation” created a pioneering medical center and a city transformed by medicine.
The Slinky Playing Right Wing for the Pittsburgh Penguins

The Slinky Playing Right Wing for the Pittsburgh Penguins

Winger Conor Sheary emerges as a constant scoring threat and tenacious on-ice presence.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


New Study: Pittsburgh Drivers are The Worst of the Worst

New Study: Pittsburgh Drivers are The Worst of the Worst

Pittsburgh ties with one other city for having the worst drivers in the nation.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Scratch Food & Beverage Has a New Executive Chef

Scratch Food & Beverage Has a New Executive Chef

Brandon Blumenfeld introduces an American gastropub menu at the Troy Hill bar.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

These spots are tailored for couples who are looking for a simple, chill night out on Valentine’s Day (or any other day). If your significant other isn’t the type to be wooed by expensive wines and chocolates, this is the list for you.

Comments


Dive Bar & Grille Expands to South Side, Remains Charming

Dive Bar & Grille Expands to South Side, Remains Charming

The latest outpost of the small, Wexford-born chain isn't flashy, but offers good beer and grub.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
‘Use Him Like ‘Troy Polamalu’ – Steelers Should Jump on This Pick

‘Use Him Like ‘Troy Polamalu’ – Steelers Should Jump on This Pick

If Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers is still available, the Pittsburgh Steelers would be wise to make him their first-round pick in the NFL draft.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Pittsburgh on a Plate

Pittsburgh on a Plate

The way to a beer lover’s heart is mapped out on notNeutral’s plate, which highlights Pittsburgh breweries (and other points of interest) across the city.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
A Refreshing Action Flick and a Redundant Thriller

A Refreshing Action Flick and a Redundant Thriller

Reviews of "Free Fire," "Unforgettable" and "The Promise," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Beautiful Blooms: Twists on the Traditional Bouquet

Beautiful Blooms: Twists on the Traditional Bouquet

You’ll definitely want the story behind these stunning wedding flowers.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Rare Plants, Accessories, Up for Grabs at 2017 Garden Marketplace

Rare Plants, Accessories, Up for Grabs at 2017 Garden Marketplace

Hosted by the Penn State Master Gardeners, the free event, which includes the local daffodil society’s annual show, features exclusive and hard-to-find flowers, shrubs, fruit and vegetable plants and other garden accessories from a variety of vendors.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
A-Rod to Talk Baseball and Steroids at Slippery Rock

A-Rod to Talk Baseball and Steroids at Slippery Rock

Considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time, Alex Rodriguez also is one of the league's more controversial stars.

Comments