When I first moved to New York City and before I knew that we don’t really talk to strangers on the street, I saw a man carrying a Pittsburgh Penguins gym bag and I shouted, “Go Penguins!” He took one headphone out and said “What?”
Scrambling, “Your gym bag. The Penguins. I’m from Pittsburgh. Go Penguins!”
It seemed as though he was noticing his bag for the first time.
“Hmm.” He walked away.
I didn’t know then that folks don’t typically want to talk to a stranger on the street when they’re commuting home in the evening. I was just thrilled to see something that reminded me of home.
They say you can find a Pittsburgh Steelers fan anywhere and it's confirmed by the pictures of Steelers bars that litter my family’s group text—evidence of where we’re going, evidence of where we came from.
Last month, I saw a Nevada car in New York City with a Steelers license plate cover.
Home, it seems, can be complicated.
I grew up outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I get excited about burnt almond torte and Eat’n Park Smiley cookies and I think every city needs an incline.
I moved to New York City when I was 21. I am constantly in awe of the farmers markets and running trails and I think every city needs to be this vibrant and walkable.
I spent a few months once in a small town in Washington state. It lingers in the sticker that takes up a quarter of my computer case and the way my brain has been overwritten to only associate fresh berries with those cool winter hikes. I think every city needs a used bookstore as its heartbeat.
Frequently, I joke about scattering my heart everywhere I go. Between road trips and international flights and friendships that straddle time zones, it’s easy to feel homesick for places that I’ve really only passed through.
But then I think of a Nevada car in New York City with a Steelers license plate cover.
And I think of how my New York driver’s license leans against a ticket from the Washington State Guemes Island Ferry, with a Butler County, PA library card tucked just behind.
Home, it seems, can be all the places we love.