Alas, today I head back to classes (and I am officially terrified that I am in my last semester and have no clue what I can do come May). In honor of my last weekend of freedom…Okay, a one-year-old’s birthday really, Michael and I headed up to Pittsburgh to visit his family. This marked our second trip to the Steel City in the past couple months (and the second overall) but I think I learned a lot more this time than I did the first time (Last time was just that there are a lot of purple “adult” stores on your way there).
The first thing I learned was that small shop owners must all be cut from the same mold because we stopped in this wine shop that we remembered and the lady working the counter seemed oddly familiar. We walked in and I was instantly in love. There was wine and kinck-knacks and Steelers stuff everywhere. The older lady working the counter just started talking away the minute we step foot in the door. She was telling us all about her wines and how she takes the apple one to parties and warms it up with some cinnamon and they went through a few cases of it at the last party. She was talking about her trip to Florida soon and asking where we were from and talking about our moms because we bought them some wine. The lady was super sweet and I’m sure she gets a little bored when there’s not much traffic coming through this time of year but it hit me why this lady seemed so familiar. The more she talked, the more I realized that she was just like my lovely Vintage Lady, Cindi. I love Cindi dearly and part of the reason we are such a popular shop is because of how friendly she is. She can find something in common with just about everyone and instantly makes you feel as if y’all have known each other forever. The wine shop lady had the same wonderful quality–a quality that I think is very important as not only a small shop owner but is a great thing just to have as a human. Lucky for her, Michael and I love locally made wines and I love small shops (and their employees! Go us!) because we will definitely be back.
We arrived in the city a few hours before the party was supposed to start. I didn’t really get to explore the city (read: explore the local shopping) last time because we had fun with Michael’s grandpa, driving around and telling us old stories. This time I was promised that I would get a taste of the Burgh so we went to Ross Park Mall. Shopping is a universal language because despite being out of place in the fancy pants stores, I felt at home. It was a great mall and if I wasn’t working just to make enough for a bridesmaid dress, then I definitely could have done some serious damage. One thing I noticed is that this mall was a combination of two malls near me: Tyson’s Corner and Dulles Town Center. It had all the more expensive stores–Lucky, Juicy, Coach, Apple–like Tyson’s but had the dedication to the area’s teams like Dulles. I found two Pittsburgh stores (and a wonderful Vera Bradley). Unfortunately, neither had those only-can-find-them-in-the-Steel-City shirts that I was looking for but the one reminded me a lot of the sports store in Dulles. I may have been a little worried about heading up to begin with but all was right once I stepped inside a mall.
Speaking of Steelers, a great lesson I learned is that it’s great to be around your own people. Last time, we had to rush home because I had to work in the early afternoon of the same day so I didn’t really get a feel for anything but this time, it was a whole different ball game. I felt comfortable wearing Steelers stuff. I knew that almost no matter who I talked to (and anyone in Michael’s family) I wouldn’t be criticized for liking the Black and Gold. I loved it. Michael, while not one to ever feel uncomfortable, joked when he walked in one store that he was the one out of place for once because he was a Ravens, Caps, and Orioles fan in a store full of Steelers, Pens, and Pirates. Welcome to my world, darlin’. You learn to defend your team quickly when you are the minority. And on a side note, I even managed to get him to but something Steelers! It may have been a pink Terrible Towel and for me but it’s a step in the right direction; now to get rid of those dumb Ravens pajama pants….
I could go on but I’m only going to talk about one more thing: sometimes just a small trip makes for a great time. We never get to really go away just the two of us. We’re in the stage of life where we’re looking for real jobs and graduating and trying to get our adult lives underway but we are still kids and we are still living with our parents and off our parents really. When we do go away, it’s with our friends or my parents. Although we really weren’t alone for that much time because we were having fun at the party and staying with his uncle and aunt, the car ride was our time. It was great to have all that time where we could talk about everything and we could stop where we wanted and be as goofy as we are. Some things may seem small but those are the things that are important to me (and, hopefully, us). While I’ll have the memories of the birthday party and getting to know Michael’s family, I’ll also remember things like him thinking it’s cute that as soon as we got in the car I started on my box of cereal and we both knew the whole thing would be gone in roughly 20 minutes or our shopping adventures in the mall and in the big Steelers store or how we bought wine or us play fighting at stop lights. Those four hours be a long car ride but they are fun when you are spending them with your best friend (and also when you are a little sleep deprived because you can’t sleep without a fan or in another person’s bed comfortably).
Our little adventure was just what I needed be the real world starts kicking in again. I’ve got papers and tests and classes and job searching and the finalization of my big paper to look forward to stress over soon. I may have to rely on the gym and yoga to relieve all that but at least I got a chance to do this before it all started. Here’s to the small adventures that mean everything and getting things looking good in the future.