Transcience

Pittsburgh.

Yea, you.

I’m just as surprised to be writing about you too. You haven’t been in my life for an entire year, but living here has taught me more about myself then I have learned in 23 years. While you are still not my favorite place to be, I can only be grateful for the lessons you’ve given me.

When I first visited you in June, there was nothing about you that caught my eye or struck me. I didn’t experience love at first sight. I didn’t find anything negative about you, but I struggled to discover the positive aspects that would make me feel at home. I ate your food, explored your neighborhoods, but nothing drew my heart closer to you.

Desperate to branch out of my comfort zone and experience life beyond what I had known it to be, I was eager to move. I was excited about the prospects you would reveal behind your brown pollution cloud and rich American history. And you haven’t disappointed. By next semester, I will be filled with knowledge that couldn’t be learned anywhere else but here.

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Though it is filled with critiques, I am attending one of the best social work programs in the nation. I have been supported by professors and administrators alike who have provided me with opportunities to expand my knowledge. I have been offered an internship that has taught me the power of boundaries. I am challenged, not with curriculum, but the way that I think about things, about what I choose to believe. I have created connections I would not have made anywhere else. I am able to experience an education that will undoubtedly impact my social work career for years to come.

Pittsburgh, you had given me the gift of solitude when I didn’t realize it was necessary. To live outside your comfort zone is vastly different than experiencing short-term. For the past four years, I was surrounded by love and support in the form of my Chicago family. I left this support, this community, to live in solitude. This has been one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. With only two people I knew in the entire state, I have been forced to put myself out there and seek relationships that will provide meaning in my short time here in Pittsburgh. Admittedly, this has been difficult. The moments I usually fill with people, I’ve had the opportunity to be with myself.

Solitude has changed my outlook on life. I value myself more, am grateful for the quiet moments. Before you, Pittsburgh, I would cry softly to make sure that no roommate could hear me. Now, I weep at every moment and feel no shame in doing so. I dance loudly to music on Saturdays, when I should be cleaning. I take off my pants when I enter my home. When I write in my journal, I write with more honesty. No one is watching. I dance with more passion because no one can judge. I am more me than I ever was, and my solitude has made me unapologetic for the Hannah I’ve become. No matter where I am, I can find a home, and it is now within myself, not in others.

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I still don’t like you very much and will be excited when I get to leave you permanently. But who knows — you may teach me something in 2018 I am unprepared for, and then, maybe, just maybe…you’ll have my heart forever.

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