When James and I were in the Calgary airport coming back from our honeymoon, James saw a kid wearing a Pittsburgh Pirates jersey, and happy to have found another fan, James asked if he was from Pittsburgh. “Naw man,” the kid replied, “But I wish!”
I am pretty sure that is the only time that this question has ever elicited that response.
Now, I am not trying to bash the fine city of Pittsburgh, I am just being honest about the fact that it isn’t exactly appearing on all the Pinterest boards entitled “Places I wish I was” or “Dream Vacations” or “Want to live here” or even “Maybe this place wouldn’t be as bad as a trailer-park.”
But Pittsburgh is the home of James’ beloved Pirates, so we did indeed take a roadtrip there last weekend to see them play the San Diego Padres. James has been a Pirates fan since he was a kid, thanks in large part to the amazing story and person of Roberto Clemente. Yet despite his lifelong devotion (a big deal indeed since the Pirates have not had a winning season in 19 years), James had never actually been to Pittsburgh to see them play. And as he has been so good about letting me spend most of our wedding money on pillows, curtains, and excessive Ikea furniture, I said that we could also take some of it to take a Pittsburgh Pirates Pilgrimage.
Let me say that I am not a Sports Person. I mean, I bleed blue like all central Kentucky people worth their salt, but I am not – by any stretch of the imagination – a Sports Person. I do not participate in activities where coordination is involved, I do not understand most sports, and I happily spent all the time at my brothers’ games growing up eating Jolly Ranchers at the concession stand. But I love James, and sometimes when you love someone, you have to take up the causes they think are important. Which is why, as Pittsburgh is having a fantastic season, I am joining James in paying attention and rooting them on. And thus we left for Pittsburgh on a Saturday afternoon with the intention of staying outside of town that night and then going in the next day for the Sunday game. When we got to our hotel about 9 that night we were in exceptionally high spirits after a dinner at Cracker Barrel. My spirits were due to the exceptionally awesome food… and James’ were due to mocking me and my love for Cracker Barrel. (Apparently some people don’t view it as the fine family dining establishment it is. And yes, most of the other people there were obese old people, and yes, a coupld had oxygen tanks, but my biscuits were legit. )
Our good moods were very providential because when we arrived at the hotel that we had booked online for a steal (Danger Sign #1), we were in for a surprise. Before even opening the door, we noticed a large stain spreading out from under the door. Upon entering, James proceeded to check the room for a DEAD BODY, because that was how strong the rotting smell was. We went down to the front desk and informed the ladies that our room in fact smelled like something had died, to which they became very evasive and refused eye contact, and insisted that someone had stayed yesterday with no complaint.
Um, that didn’t really make us feel better.
We left Hotel of Death Smell and continued on to Pittsburgh…. only to discover that there are no. vacancies. anywhere. Apparently Pittsburgh is a hotter getaway spot then I thought. Finally, we took the first empty room we found, which is how we ended up staying in the nicest hotel I have ever stayed in and having breakfast in bed from a silver tray the next morning while propped up by an insanely large pile of pillows.
The next morning we headed out to the game and all was smooth sailing from there. The Pirates won, after an abysmal start, and we were able to sneak in to great seats. Plus, I ate so much ballpark food that I was kind of sick that night, so I count the game a success.
I know it is weird, but PNC Park is one of the prettiest places ever. Pittsburgh is a kind of grungy town, but there is something honest about it, hardworking and aggressively beautiful. It is a testament to American pull-yourself-up-by-the bootstraps spirit, with its skyline a interesting blend of modern marvels and gothic inspiration. It is past glory trying to forge ahead in the present. And seated in the stands cheering for a team that might just be pulling it together, I though that maybe, just maybe, I could become a Sports Watching Person (not playing – there are limits). Because everyone becomes a family when they are watching a baseball game. We all high-five and cheer and talk like we know each other. And everyone becomes a patriot while watching a baseball game, as we take off our hats for the national anthem, and honor present soldiers, and cheer for the Cub Scouts who carry the flags. And everyone, it seems, becomes just a little better then they were before they started watching.
Instagram photos: so excited for the roadtrip that we can’t both get in the frame. pink clouds in Pennsylvania — my first time in this state. matchy matchy Wegmanns. yellow bridge. James’ free lunchbox. Hannah’s favorite part of ball games. flashing the Zoltane — which Hannah had to practice — when the Pirates scored 9 runs in one inning. happy after the win. PNC park with the Pittsburgh skyline.