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I was a senior in high school, touring Pitt, and I was sitting in a conference room on floor 35 of Cathy. I was sitting with about twenty other strangers, but everyone was so welcoming and I had a great time hanging out with them. I wasn’t even planning on attending Pitt at this point, but I remember the upperclassmen telling us all about how great the school was and I recall thinking that it wouldn’t be so bad if I went here. The most striking image I remember from that day was looking out the window and seeing all of campus below in a single breathtaking view. Little did I know that I would be at Pitt a year from then, but the view from Cathy never gets old.
I had just left Forbes Street Market when a man approached me and asked if I could help him out. He needed some money for bus fare, he explained, and was getting increasingly worried that he wouldn't make it to his job on time and asked if I had any money. I try to give if I can, but since I only had a 10 dollar bill, I turned the man down. He then cornered me, and kept putting on pressure to go back into the store and get change. Since the store was empty, I agreed, but then he kept trying to get the money from me to do it himself. As he put the money away, I noticed that he wasn't as broke as he claimed to be. There wasn't really anything I could have done at this point of getting swindled, so I instead decided to walk down Forbes Ave with sunglasses and headphones on in the future.
My friends had found some shower curtains in a closet on our floor of Tower C and decided we should do a Slip n' Slide. So we duct taped them together, bought a bunch of cases of water and little bottles of dish soap from Market To Go, and took a bunch of knives from Market to use to try to stick the slide down (it didn't really work very well, we just ended up laying on the sides at the top). We took all of the supplies up to the hill next to the Pete and set up a Slip n' Slide to play on the weekend before finals week at the end of our freshman year.
I was driving home from work, and two cars were stopped ahead of me - it looked like a fender bender. The man in the front car was getting out of his car, walking back to the car that had hit him, I assumed to exchange information. Suddenly the man in the car nearest me got out of his car and went charging after the man who had been hit, beating him up right on the street. I tried to capture the license plate and video what was happening as I yelled at two guys on the sidewalk to try to intervene. They leapt over the guardrail and sort of chased the assailant off. He then jumped into his car and drove off at high speed, tearing one of the side mirrors off the other man's car in the process. The whole thing was very violent, sudden, and scary. One of the fellows who saw the whole thing from the street, myself, and the man who was assaulted waited together for the police down a little alleyway on our left. As we talked, we tried to reassure the man who had been attacked. I felt the effort of mutual support, and sensed that we had created a small community, the three of us, having shared the experience.
I have only said yes to a few dates in my life. My time is precious, I prefer not to waste it on boys who think liking Tarantino films is a personality trait. Even scarcer is my need to ask someone on a date - it takes a lot to impress me and I've only done it twice. This is the second time. For the sake of preserving the privacy of my mystery man, I'll be calling him Ben. Ben and I have many mutual friends, several of whom knew I've been on the market for a while. In an attempt to be a part of the wedding party, one of my friends promised he would set Ben and I up on a date. Weeks passed, this ever happened, we kept each other in the periphery. Over winter break between semesters I got either fed up or extra ballsy and asked him out to coffee myself in an Instagram DM. Chivalry is dead and I killed it. These sort of things happen when you're so exasperated with men (questionable term) your own age; once in a while you have to start speaking their language even if it damages your hopeless romantic interior. However blunt I may have been, Ben gleefully agreed to iced lattes in freezing Oakland. We showed up in matching outfits accidentally which I secretly hoped counted for something. Maybe a tiny sign that something in this can of worms would work out. We made small talk while ordering the coffee at which point he looked the barista right in the eye and asked for my exact order because he'd never tried it before. Bold. I loved it. The brief forty minutes in each other's company was spent strolling up Forbes Avenue around the Cathedral of Learning and back down Forbes; we talked majors and minors, where our parents were from, my incessant need to pick up new hobbies to entertain my lightning-fast brain, and covertly trying to discern whether his business concentration made him an asshole. You really can't be too careful with those things. I won't say I've never thought about being a trophy wife, but I was certainly not ready to make that picket fence commitment over a latte. The walk was freezing, he minded more than I did, but our laughter was doing its best to keep us warm. Quip for quip he could make me laugh which is not something I see often nor take for granted when I find it. He walked me back to my dorm and I thanked him for a nice date, I'd text him later. We spoke once after this. There are some things you can run from and some you can't. I try my absolute hardest to run from vulnerability because I don't want to give someone else the power to hurt me again. By convincing myself I'm better off alone, I can feel okay about only being compelled to ask out two boys in my lifetime. It's hard for me to find people that make me believe that love can last, and I know this, but somewhere in me this is also comforting. It turns out Ben and I were both running from something while we walked almost arm in arm. I, from someone I did actually have a crush on who couldn't reciprocate, he from a girl he was in love with but in too much of a personal tangle to commit to. He told me I couldn't be the one to unravel his heart, I told him I wouldn't have dared try. Not my job, his. I'm not angry with Ben for agreeing to a date while being involved with someone else. How could I be? That would make me a hypocrite - I try to stay away from logical fallacies. I see myself in him, the two of us running but not colliding with each other, almost like we had gone out for a jog at the same sunrise hour and accidentally ran at the same pace for forty minutes. Eventually paths diverge. There was nothing either of us could say to make a point, not even me on the perpetual defense. From across a divide (Oakland Avenue sidewalks) we were to part, never to be seen again. Kidding - we see each other all the time in mutual spaces. But this is how things really end after snapshot meetings. We're actually becoming friends. When we catch streamlined gaze across a darkened room, even for that brief moment, I wonder if he stills sees in me the escape route he tried to take. I sure do, especially because I thought I had the same idea first. If we cannot find romantic company, at least we'd found solidarity. That in itself is a luxury. Something you don't run from when you find it.
My father used to take me down to the Carnegie Library or museums in Oakland on rainy days, back when I was little and we lived closer to the city. I remember playing between his big legs and saying hi to him every time we passed by. I would always ask my dad how the dinosaur put on his winter hat and scarf that he wore every year. And every year, my dad would say the same thing-- "he just put them on himself!"
I found myself at Hillman almost everyday this past semester, it was a place to escape a suffocating dorm room and do my work surrounded by other students. It never felt as lonely when I was in Hillman, I always knew there was a place I could sit and listen to the chatter all around me. This was what college was supposed to feel like, and with all the covid restrictions in place this was a building I could go to and feel like I was having a normal college experience. Everytime I would leave Hillman, usually at dusk, Cathy would just be illuminated above me in a perfectly picturesque way. This was always my sign of a day well spent, and it was a view I looked forward to seeing everyday walking down the steps of the Hillman library.
If Pittsburgh is the Paris of Appalachia, Oakland is its Saint-Denis. (Many French film and television studios are located in this Parisian suburb). In early February of 2020, a friend and I decided to spend an afternoon in the Carnegie Museum of Art. We entered the building from the drive-up entry and, once inside, were greeted by women in elaborate dresses and a film crew, their cameras trained on a nearby room. We were quickly shushed before a security guard asked us to leave; the museum was closed for filming. We never did get a glimpse of star Jason Momoa, the lead actor, nor did we figure out why the crew member patrolling outside let us walk in at all, but look forward to picking out familiar Oakland locations once the finished product is released.
Spending my first year of college in the Forbes Hall dorm introduced me to some of my very best friends. My favorite story at this dorm was from September 2020, on my birthday. It was a Thursday and we still had class, but my close friends on my floor got together and decorated my door with streamers, a card, and a pin that said "It's my birthday!". When I opened the door to get breakfast that day, The girls across the hall heard me and ran out to give me a big hug. It made me feel so loved and confirmed how much I enjoyed going to Pitt.