It’s been three weeks since I wrote something here. What’s the short? Work’s ramped up, which is great; more hours, more pay, more challenges, more experience. I saw Kate Bornstein, she was great. Formula 1 is back, and is still great. Great, great, great.
But I’ve also been thinking a lot about my neighborhood. As one friend considers moving into town, I’ve started weighing the pros and cons of being here. I think by far one of the bigger cons is just the effect being away from Oakland has on the amount of club activities I used to do. I’m not a student anymore, but if I were in Oakland I’d probably still go to a few club meetings here and there because I have a lot of friends and acquaintances there, and obviously I still care about their causes. But has being in Squirrel Hill been the thing that keeps me away? I think it’s only one part of it, the others being factors like having a job, and being a graduate – naturally I’m just on a different rhythm than my friends who are still students.
But let’s say loneliness is a con of being in Squirrel Hill. What then? What are the pros? Well by far and away the biggest pro is the nature here. There’s a bunch of experiences, and places to eat, and places to drink, and they all factor into a good time – but it’s the nature here that sustains me more than anything. I went outside for a jog, something I’ve done fairly regularly since March, and something I never would have done in Oakland, and saw some deer tonight. Deer! I know that’s not such a big deal to people in Pennsylvania, but as someone who grew up on Long Island, then spent four years in Oakland, deer are a big deal. They’re so tranquil to watch. Squirrel Hill has also provided me the chance to see rabbits, chipmunks, stray cats, hawks, woodpeckers, cardinals and blue jays, and who knows what else will come next? I haven’t even been here a full year.
There’s no doubt that being in Oakland would have presented some conveniences, but it’s a very transient town, no apartment could have felt as cozy as my current place. And the conveniences it provides aren’t permanent either. Staying in a college town, staying friends with the same college people – I mean, those are all people leaving Oakland eventually too.
The parallel universe version of me that stayed in Oakland is a happy Ken, no doubt. He gets to keep eating Milanos, going to CWO and Secular Alliance, all of those good things, right? But I’m confident he’d be a 22-year-old version of who I was as 21. Not forced to figure out how to be happy in relative isolation. Not forced to explore the woods and parks. Happy, but worse for wear down the road. Less experiences. Oakland is where I went to school to learn lessons and life skills, but Squirrel Hill is where I think I’m learning myself.