It was a huge, huge, huge treat for me (and I hope for Caitlin and Joe) to travel to Pittsburgh, have Joe cook for us, go to every awesome neighborhood and all the candy shops and bakeries within, to eat Girl Scout Cookies (pretty much the only packaged food product of the weekend) on homemade salted caramel ice cream, to indulge in our every whim, to sleep with Tinkerbell (hahahaha), but most of all, to meet in person someone who has, over the past few months, become one of the closest friends in my life. I am going to save the foodie stuff for tomorrow (and my 100th post!), but….
Today, I wanted to relive the dream that was last week.
Alex and I went out to dinner Saturday night, and I was telling him about my trip. This is how I described it to him: It was very similar to when he and I went on our first official date: It wasn’t one of those OMG-FIREWORKS-SPARKS-EVERYTHING-IS-OUT-OF-MY-MIND-GLORIOUS moments. Instead, we just started talking, feeling each other out in this new capacity (ie, we had a previous relationship, but this was new territory), and literally didn’t shut our traps except to eat, drink copious amounts of tea, practice yoga, shower, and sleep. It was even better than those “sparks fly” moments because there was no pomp and circumstance to hide behind–it was just real, true friendship. Two people who honestly got each other. And that is how I know that this was one of the best investments (time and money wise) that I could have ever spent).
So what all did we actually get into?
I was picked up by my AE/Twin (I’m not sure what your new nickname should be, I’m working on it, lol), and as I was coming down the escalator, I was honestly wondering how we would greet. You guys are probably expecting me to say that we tackled-hugged as I wrassled her to the ground, but you know what? There was none of that. It was the simple, walk up and hug a true friend.
So we got into good old Celeste (she is part of the family, too), headed home by way of Caitlin’s fave view of the city (through the tunnel and into Oakland), and then arrived back at their place. Joe was already at work in the kitchen (I like it!), and we spent the rest of the night hanging out. (Food fun to come, don’t worry!)
C and I went to a Morning Flow class at her yoga studio Inner Hearth Yoga. If you are in the area, I would definitely recommend it. Lauren, who led our practice, was really fabulous–she has a great demeanor about her and a gift with explaining things in ways that make sense (ie “Pretend you have lungs in your glutes” during one pose). It was a great change up from my usual practice, and my hamstring didn’t hurt too much at all!
After breakfast at Square Cafe in the Regent’s Square area, we went to the Eastside Co-op, and were there for like 45 minutes, strolling the aisles, finding new things, and already talking about a road trip to Charlottesville.
A trip to Hyland Park necessitated a stop in a bakery for the free smells, and then a loop around the reservoir as we talked about our various marathon experiences. After window shopping some more in Shadyside (and me drooling over everything in the running store), we went to that bastion of food/healthy living bloggers, Whole Foods. We quickly decided it was very, very necessary to take the most token blogger picture ever–so we found some curly lanciato Kale.
Post lunch, we were off to Squirrel Hill to visit Big Kid and Peanut’s house to feed the kitties and to walk around that central drag. Squirrel Hill is hilarious–every ethnicity is present and accounted for there: traditional Greek bakeries, hearth bread companies, Thai, Japanese, African, Belgian style Liege (waffles), traditional tea bazaars, Orthodox Jewish, diners, a kosher Dunkin Donuts….. awesome bulk candy 😀 Also, who wears frosted, mint green lipstick? To be fair, it was applied perfectly.
Pre-dinner that night, Joe, Caitlin and I went to Big Dog, an adorable and cozy pet friendly coffee shop down the hill from their house, and then were off to Toast for dinner, and Prohibitions style Acacia for an after dinner drink. After a windy photo op atop MT. Washington, the salted caramel ice cream made an appearance that night once we returned home.
Caitlin and I slept in Thursday, breakfasted at our leisure, and then made off for Oakland and UPitt so I could explore the Cathedral of Learning and where Caitlin got her edumacatin’.
Then we went to Lawrenceville, a super eclectic, artsy neighborhood full of shops and restaurants and FRENCH BAKERIES. It is true, Cailtin and I love a good card shop….
Then it was off to the S
trip District for lunch, perusing, sampling, and getting ingredients for dinner. Mid-day during the week was definitely the time to go–NO ONE was there (figuratively speaking). I can imagine that the Strip is bananas during the weekend, especially during the nicer months. Joe asked me later on what my favorite part of the Strip was, and I said, and I think I will stick by it, that is was Wholey’s, what appears to be a fish/seafood market, but you soon realize that they have a butcher, a grocery, a produce area, and I would also have to add Penn Mac (Pennsylvania Macaroni Co), a similar emporium, but of all things Italian.
The industrial nature of the buildings and the lack of presumption about the places (literally, they are like, here we are-you no like, you turn around and giiiitttt out). Here in Chicago, especially downtown, we just don’t have anything like that. We have Eataly, which I refuse to go to, and things that are shiny-happy and perfectly curated. I miss the small-businesses of my NYC neighborhoods. I would kill to be able to go to a place like Wholey’s and get fish not sold with a bar code pre-attached to it, or marked up to a ridiculous extent. Also, it’s just a hilarious place. And Penzey’s spices–plus I discovered the type of cardamon that I DO like and have been searching for! It is BLACK not green cardamon. Long story. But Penzey’s is a glorious place. As is Mon Amie
and Pittsburgh Popcorn and Art of Steel.
Then, we went to one of Caitlin’s happy places–the running trail along the river. And I can definitely say it is a happy place for me know, too. Recovery was necessary afterwards–group physio therapy on the floor while watching Southern Charm, anyone? Dinner was another feast of the day’s spoils.
Back to “real life” in Chicago. As I was in the shuttle coming back into the city, I literally thought to myself, I just want to pick Alex up, grab my pills, turn around and head back to PGH. It seemed like kind of a cruel joke, you know? Especially since I was greeted with no food in the house, a mountain of laundry, and that night I ate a frozen pizza and ice cream FROM A CARTON (still delicious, but not the same). Also? The Kashi Tikka Masala Pizza is not worth it. Literally no flavor. Except for a faint smell of green cardamon. Sad face. Plus, Alex did not get off of work at 5, as he anticipated. Nope, he got home at 9:15. Blarg.
This trip really was one that I won’t forget, and for all the right reasons. Did I see something EPIC or have a LIFE ALTERING EXPERIENCE? Not in a single moment, no. But it reinforced the importance of taking leaps of faith and leaps of trust. The night before I left, Alex said, “I hope you have a wonderful time, and that you two get on in person as well as you do right now.” And I looked at him and said, “I’m actually not worried about it in the least.” Can you imagine how stilted and awkward the whole thing would have been? I have been in those situations, where it just doesn’t work. But I just had a feeling going in, and I was right.
Even more ironic and chuckle-worthy, Alex and I almost ended up in Pittsburgh for residency. His top choices were UPMC and Northwestern, and at the time, I had a sense about Caitlin (we were far more acquaintances than real friends at that point), that if we ended up there, we would be good friends. Obviously, it didn’t work out that way, but can you imagine? But who knows what might have happened then. Right now, it is the right time for us to be friends. BUT NOT THE RIGHT PLACE–I have to convince the gods and powers that be to let us be together 😀
K, I’ll stop waxing poetic. I live in Chicago, and I can’t wish for what isn’t. Instead, I get to know that I have an amazing friend a phone call or text or tweet (because we do tweet each other from different rooms in the same house #sorrynotsorry for spamming your feeds) away. I hope that we all can be so lucky and blessed as I.
When was the last time to traveled to meet someone in person for the first time? How did it go? An online-dating-type disaster? Or an eharmony success?
What is your favorite aspect about where you live?