After checking out the Buccos game (which they oh-so-lovingly won for me), I saw all the Pittsburgh natives strolling the streets and the stadium, all sporting shirts from one of our majors teams, I just realized how much people can come together. I think Pittsburgh quite literally is a small town masquerading as a big city.
The cultures merging, Italian, Polish, Croatian, Irish and just about any country you can imagine -- all can be found in the Strip District. Bargaining with shoppers, hawking food and shouting about $5 t-shirts, it shows the diversity of a farmer's market and the friendliness of a southern small town -- you just feel at home, and maybe a little overwhelmed.
Driving through the Fort Pitt tunnel reveals the beautiful skyline and Heinz and PNC stadiums along the waterfront, where the historic and beloved Three Rivers Stadium once stood. The old bridges and buildings welcome you, and the city is far from trendy, yet perfectly okay with that.
So many aspects make me love that city, but it's the little things that truly steal my heart. A simple nod of understanding while walking around in a Roberto Clemente shirt -- the city knows his greatness, as acknowledged by his large statue. A smile when someone notices a shirt denouncing Cleveland -- what a healthy and lovable rivalry. The discussions over food orders in restaurants and purchases in stores -- reminiscing about one of the best years in sports for a single city, the inspiration of Sidney Crosby, the unlikely touchdown from James Harrison, the disappointment in the Pirates, but the promise that is seen in Nyger Morgan and the stability in Jack Wilson.
I tried to enjoy my latest trip like it was my last, because I very well might not make the trip to the city again, but I certainly hope I'm wrong. Columbus has never been that type of city, and neither has Cleveland or Cincinnati. With three major sports and a troubling economic history, the city has become a cultural maven with grandmotherly women talking about the good ol' days and young children crooning over their hockey autograph. I couldn't think of a better city in which to spend a summer weekend enjoying life.