Crazy in Love, Even at 40

As PittGirl approaches her 40th birthday, she rekindles her love for Pittsburgh.



 

I’m turning 40 this month. Not to make this column all about me, but . . . WAH. I wish I could tell you I’m one of those women who embrace 40. They love it and say, “Forty is the new 25” — or some other lie — as they pluck gray hairs from their hairlines and chins.

I’m no longer a “young professional.” Considering I generally show up to meetings 10 minutes late, in jeans and with Dunkin’ Donuts receipts and half-empty Combos bags spilling out of my purse, I tend to use the term “professional” loosely anyway.

I no longer qualify for the 40 Under 40 awards.

I’m 10 years from having the Nielsen ratings system give up on me because it thinks I’ll watch only “60 Minutes” and “Wheel of Fortune” before I polish off a glass of Ensure and head to bed.

I am officially middle-aged. Mid-life. Half-death.

I no longer can gush about the new hottie on the Pirates, Penguins or Steelers teams without sounding like a cradle-robbing cougar. I’d rather be labeled anything than that. Even a “tunnel-braker.”

I now have two churches. The new one is the wrinkle-cream aisle at Target. The Sunday-paper circular is my Bible, and Olay is my god.

Perhaps worst of all, I’ll have to check off the “40s” box in the age section of my other church’s weekly communicator card. It will be the hardest pen stroke I’ve made since I signed in for my first mammogram.

But as with every roller coaster that sends you screaming into a terrifying abyss, there’s an upside, too: Turning 40 changes how you see Pittsburgh and what you value about it.

When I fell in love with the city, I was 29. My love was focused on the external. It was summed up as, “Look at this beautiful skyline, these yellow bridges over these sparkling waters, these stadiums, these inclines, this fountain. Don’t you wish you lived here, too?”

As I approach 40, I’ve pulled back the curtain to find the true depth of what Pittsburgh means to me, beyond its superficial beauty, and found a more meaningful love for the Steel City. 

It’s a love for Pittsburgh’s realness, particularly in its people. One of my sisters now lives in Richmond, Va., and she once mentioned she couldn’t wait to visit home because she was fed up with how fake everyone is in her town. They’re wearing makeup to the bus stop. They’ve crafted façades of perfect lives. They live to impress.

Regardless of residing down South, my sister still is Pittsburgh because my white-collar father raised us with a blue-collar core, as many Pittsburgh dads did. The only way she’s wearing makeup to the bus stop is if there’s a 99 percent chance Brad Pitt will be there.

As a general rule, Pittsburgh’s people aren’t awestruck with your “impressive” self. They don’t care if you look like a million bucks or three cents. They’ll gauge you by your manners more than your Manolos. I love that. I love that we are who we are, and we’re not apologizing for it or trying to cover it up. We’re just . . . Yinz.

Beyond that realness, I love that Pittsburgh is small and thriving. It’s growing but not outgrowing its britches; that means it feels like a friendly community more than a bustling city.

Together, we’ve watched a wilted flower rise up to the sun, thanks to a little TLC. When you’ve helped to take care of something like that, you want to pass it on to your kids so that they’ll grow to treasure it, too. Despite its flaws, Pittsburgh has become a cherished heirloom for me to pass down.

It’s something I can show my kids from Mount Washington and say, “For deeper reasons than you’re seeing right now, I love this city. I’ll teach you to love it because it’s real, it’s honest, it’s worthy — and you can make a difference here. So you’ll take care of it and make it even better when it’s your turn.”

The skyline, rivers, bridges, inclines and stadiums are just the icing on that birthday cake . . . topped with 40 candles.

Praise the ’Burgh, and pass the bag of Werthers. 


Hot Reads

From Field to Fork

From Field to Fork

We put together this dynamic guide to help you find and engage with the region’s sustainable producers of meat, honey, alcohol, fruits and vegetables.
Sometimes Your Best Friends in Life Aren't on Facebook

Sometimes Your Best Friends in Life Aren't on Facebook

PittGirl wonders if it's still possible to raise kids to be big-hearted people in an age of self-obsession.
Review: Café Zinho

Review: Café Zinho

Seasoned chef and entrepreneur Toni Pais continues to impress folks who dine at his longstanding Mediterranean establishment, Café Zinho.
City Guide: 200+ Fun Things to Do (No Matter Where You Are)

City Guide: 200+ Fun Things to Do (No Matter Where You Are)

We explore every inch of Allegheny County (and beyond) for a look at the communities where we live, work and play.

The 412

A Pitt Computer Team Just Proved a 400-Year-Old Theory

A Pitt Computer Team Just Proved a 400-Year-Old Theory

Hundreds of years after Johannes Kepler presented a theory on how to best stack spherical objects, Pitt reps confirm that the German mathematician was correct.
Next Month, the City of Pittsburgh Will Turn Into the Best Gym Class Ever

Next Month, the City of Pittsburgh Will Turn Into the Best Gym Class Ever

Act like a kid again at the City of Play Best Games Fest.
5 Painless Pittsburgh Running Routes

5 Painless Pittsburgh Running Routes

If you’re going to sweat, you might as well enjoy some beautiful views of the city.
Here’s the ‘Pittsburgh is Beautiful’ Commercial That’s Running in Times Square

Here’s the ‘Pittsburgh is Beautiful’ Commercial That’s Running in Times Square

The city celebrates its resurgence with a national ad campaign.

Hot Reads

From Field to Fork

From Field to Fork

We put together this dynamic guide to help you find and engage with the region’s sustainable producers of meat, honey, alcohol, fruits and vegetables.
Review: Café Zinho

Review: Café Zinho

Seasoned chef and entrepreneur Toni Pais continues to impress folks who dine at his longstanding Mediterranean establishment, Café Zinho.
Sometimes Your Best Friends in Life Aren't on Facebook

Sometimes Your Best Friends in Life Aren't on Facebook

PittGirl wonders if it's still possible to raise kids to be big-hearted people in an age of self-obsession.
City Guide: 200+ Fun Things to Do (No Matter Where You Are)

City Guide: 200+ Fun Things to Do (No Matter Where You Are)

We explore every inch of Allegheny County (and beyond) for a look at the communities where we live, work and play.
6 More Things You Might Not Know About Pittsburgh

6 More Things You Might Not Know About Pittsburgh

PittGirl's at it again — this time with a list of a half-dozen fun facts you'll want to mention at your next cocktail party.
'Which Neighborhood Should I Live In?'

'Which Neighborhood Should I Live In?'

We pick the perfect neighborhood for six breeds of ’Burgher.