Am I just alive or am I living?

I left my heart in North Carolina. Well, a piece of my heart and not literally. I’m supersupersuper thrilled to be back in the City of Champions or “Pittsburgh” as the non-believers may call it, but the main thing I miss is spending time with one of my best friends, Tracy.

Cherie and Tracy
Me & Tracy celebrating Memorial Day in NC before I moved!

When I found out that I really was moving back here for good, I had all these visions in my head of going out for girl’s nights out on the town {or at least going to the local Applebee’s} with my high school and college girlfriends who live here. But those visions were dashed. While I’m soon to be divorced in 50+ days, have no babies/kids, husband/fiancé tending to do, they’re all shacked up, married with kids and can’t ever seem to get away. Blah.

Someecards everyones getting married

So I have to make my own fun by myself. It’s cool. I’m finally understanding the difference between alone and lonely. I’m not lonely, I am alone. And alone is okay. I’m the one responsible for making my fun. Haha, but since I’ve been here, I think I’ve been doing a sucktastic job. Taking myself to the local smoky dive bar to watch Steeler games (especially when they lose like this past Sunday–the JETS?! Come on, man!) is okay, but it’s not really what I had intended to do with this newfound freedom and fresh start. I had to ask myself, am I just alive or am I living?

When Tracy announced she, her hubby, her fabulous daughters + one boyfriend and cool niece would all be in tow and heading up here for the weekend of October 26th for some debauchery, tailgaiting and all around awesomeness in Pittsburgh I. Could. Not. Wait. My calendar had been marked for months! Tracy is 50. Yes, 14 years my senior but she is the coolest 50 year old ever (other than my 50 year old sister who also rocks). We met at a Steelers bar in Chapel Hill, NC, years ago and it was friendship at first sight. I think we were making fun of the same thing and it was just meant to be. (Those are always the chicks I end up befriending.) Her hubs rocks and her twenty-something daughters, the boyfriend, and niece are equally fabulous. I love good people. And people I already know. So light and easy and comfortable!

Tracy and family
me and ashley
Obviously pics from Easter weekend. Haa. Hence the ears.

The weekend finally arrived (yeah, I’m obviously late writing about it, whatev). I met them at their hotel where they were staying. After hugs all around, we piled into one van and trekked off to the city. I was beyond pumped. Okay, so I live in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. I think it’s a mere 26 miles or so. If I were a marathoner I could run it. Yet I cannot get my arse there to do annnnything. I’m lazy in that respect and always like, “Ughhh, but I don’t feel like driving into the city. Gas is too damn high. Maybe next month.” Yet, I loooove Pittsburgh, right? I know. Told you I’ve been doing a sucktastic job of this, haha.

Primanti Bros Sandwich
Yeah, no. Don’t put me down for fries on my sandwich.

The first stop was Primanti Bros. in the Strip District. It’s home of the “French fries” on the sandwich-sandwich. I might have my Yinzer card taken away for this, but I’m not down with fries on my sandwich. I love French fries too much to combine any other tastes with them. So I ordered mine on the side. You face shaming for doing so, but we don’t mess with my French fry consumption okay. I don’t get to eat them that often! Though I like to keep my fries separate but equal, I was amazed that I hadn’t been to this Primantis since college. Seriously, like 15 years. How on earth have I not gotten back here since then?

After lunch we walked down to the street to check out some Steelers vendors/stores. I can’t have enough Steelers stuff. And they don’t live here so they needed to stock up. (I will always make excuses for needing to go into a Steelers store just so you know.) We saw a restaurant  across the street with a rooftop bar. Of course we were going to have to go.

Rolands Pittsburgh PA
Rolands Pittsburgh PA view

It was an unusually awesome late October weather day in the ‘Burgh so we sat up there and sipped adult beverages. I took pictures. Because, well, blogger. Then it dawned on me that I pass this restaurant while running the path of the Pittsburgh Half Marathon! I’ve always wanted to sit up here and have drinks while looking at the passerbys below. I couldn’t believe I was finally doing it. Seriously, FINALLY. After like two years of wanting to come here?! What took me so long?!!!! After the drinks outside, we went inside for air hockey and more drinks. Then a little bit later we made our way over to the Duquesne Incline.

Duquesne Incline front
Duquesne Incline me

“What, we’re going on the Incline?” I asked with glee?

Duquesne Incline view
Duquesne Incline front building

Born here, raised here, came back here and now I was JUST riding this world famous incline for the FIRST time? I couldn’t believe it. Yeah, I do have a weird fear of falling and just look at it—it has “falling” written all over it, but I’ve still always wanted to ride it. Thanks to Tracy + The Gang, I was about to do it.

It was total awesomeness. We didn’t die. So that was especially awesome, and the city looked even more gorgeous from above. I need to do this more often. 🙂

We finished up the evening by heading to Quaker Steak and Lube for dinner and more drinks (my liver was in for a hurtin’ this weekend) and then said goodnight for the evening.

Heinz Field
Heinz Field tv in truck tailgating
We set up right outside of Heinz Field. No tix, but Tracy’s husband hooked up a TV in the back of his truck. Handy!

The next day we piled back in the van and headed back downtown for the main event of the weekend–the tail gating! It was my very first time tail gating (I know, right?!) and it did not disappoint. Even if we hadn’t kicked the Colts’ butts (which we did) it still would have been and amazing day!

Heinz Field Tailgating

Heinz Field Tailgating Tracy

Everyone was setting up the food, drinks & such.

Heinz field me in steelers hat

I was helping of course, but had to stop to take a selfie. I’m always me no matter where I am, haha.

Heinz Field me and tracy

Since I was taking pics, Tracy and I took one together to commemorate the day!

The only bad part of the tail gaiting is the bathroom situation. There are none. But being a runner, I’m used to the Porta Potty struggle. It was on the other side of the parking lot, and because I had a good bit of adult beverages throughout the day, I often had to go. Brightside, I got to sample random foods from fellow tailgaters along the way (it was free to take, right? Ughh?) and stopped to listen to Steeline–an awesome Pittsburgh drumline.

Heinz Field Steeline drum line

I wanted to play the drums but my mom made me pick the flute. Bummer. Anyhooooo, this was an AMAAAAZING weekend. Again, I can’t believe it took my bff to come all the way from NC to get me to experience stuff in my own dang city. But I know what’s out there now and I really know what I’m missing. I want to see more. I want to do more. I need to put myself out there and experience Pittsburgh…experience life.

I’ve wanted to move back here since I left in 2002. I’m thankful for all that I experienced in my 12 years away, but there’s nothing more that I wanted than to be back. Single, about to turn 37, soon-to-be divorced, no set career, financially roughin’ it–this was definitely not how I pictured it though. I suppose I thought I’d have my own little version of Tracy’s family. But it is what it is. This is the life I have; this is where I start. I was alive but now I’m going to live.

Yeah–alone and living. I can do this. 🙂