Saturday, April 19, 2008

Prodigal Pittsburgher

Prod"i*gal\, a. [L. prodigus, from prodigere to drive forth, to squander away. . .

Each day for the last two days, I spoke with people who were planning to move from D.C., back to Pittsburgh. They had left Pittsburgh for D.C. in search of better jobs. At least one of them found that, helping a man go from Congressman to Governor and getting a lot of good things done along the way. And they're both looking to come back to the 'burgh.

Someone recently asked me if I was attached to working in Pittsburgh. Actually, a lot of people have recently asked me if I'm attached to working in Pittsburgh. I looked out of his picture window, following the yellow arc of the bridge across the river to the sun reflecting off the windows of the buildings on the the other side. Pittsburgh is beautiful. It's clean, affordable, and the people are kind. I would like Mag Lev to be built between here and Philly, to pull the state together like a zipper. I could get to my folk's house in an hour every Sunday for dinner, and not move Love from her hometown, from her parents, from the city I have come to love.

They say you can never go home again. I want to walk in the corn fields of my youth, but they've cut paved roads through them, and the park service drives through in trucks and yaps at me to keep my dog on a leash. Soccer moms pushing strollers take up the space between the corn and the soybean fields, and people drive their cars to the parking lots near the flush toilets.

My dog and I used to push through the hot air on the dusty red dirt roads between the corn and the soybeans, sometimes shaded by the mulberry trees, sometimes pulling ourselves through the clutches of the raspberry bushes, always, sooner or later, escaping to the flat rocks of the creek bed. Mint grew in the clay along the banks. A migrant field worker, wrinkled and smiling, holding a tomato that smelled like the sun. Here, a deserted farm house with a narrow stair way, a small fireplace in each bedroom, and newspapers like tumbleweeds that blew in from the 1970's. A quarter of a mile over, along the roadside and by the edges of the pine forest, jonquils silhouette the outline of where a house once stood. Hawks fly overhead. Deer evaporate into the pines.

"When bees are few, the revelry alone will do."

Einstein said that he solved problems by imagining himself traveling above the fray on a beam of light, taking in the whole picture from this elevated perspective. From there, the same circumstances did not look like problems.

"I put this moment here. I put this moment here. I put this moment over here."

I come home in twenty-two days. And I want to be everywhere at once.