Since leaving Chicago last June, I’ll admit I’ve grown up a lot. Whether it’s being in the professional world or living on my own, I realized that the real world is a lot different than college life. I’ve had to make important decisions, way beyond what food to eat, and live with the results.
For sure the biggest decision is the one I made this past February when I decided that I would be moving back to Chicago in June.
Don’t think that the city of Pittsburgh scared me off so easily. In fact, I was impressed how quickly the Jewish community took me in. Whether it was at The Chronicle or at Beth El Congregation of the South Hills, I always had a Jewish home to go to for Shabbat or any other holiday.
However, being a part of a Jewish family here in Pittsburgh made me realize how much I wanted to be a part of my Jewish family back in Chicago. The pull of my friends and family was finally too much to ignore.
While many people I tell don’t understand why I would leave a full-time job right now, I’m not going back to Chicago empty-handed.
I’ll be going to graduate school at Northwestern University to get my master’s in sports administration. So don’t worry, I’ll be kept busy.
But when looking back on my 11 months here in Pittsburgh, I got to do a lot of new and interesting things.
My first job out of college was right here at The Jewish Chronicle. I’ll admit that when taking this job I wasn’t the most religious Jew, but working at a Jewish newspaper, and at Beth El where I am director of the Kadima youth group, I feel like I’ve connected a little bit more to Judaism and what it means to be Jewish.
But there’s been more than work.
I celebrated a Super Bowl championship, something I’ve never done in Chicago. I learned how to drive up and down steep hills in a snowstorm, and I learned what “tubes” were.
Still, I couldn’t put into words how excited I am to be moving back to my hometown.
While I don’t dislike Pittsburgh by any means, I’m quickly preparing to transition back to Chicago.
I’ll eat my last slice of pizza at Mineo’s, or Aiello’s — I still think they taste the same even though many will strongly disagree — but I’ve missed real Chicago-style pizza.
While the Pirates are doing well so far, come on people, we know their collapse is just around the corner. Instead I’ll return to baseball Mecca and spend my afternoons in the bleachers of Wrigley Field. And even though the Cubs haven’t won the World Series in 100 years, at least they’ve had a winning season this millennium.
I did get to a Penguins game while I was here. The atmosphere was intense, but come to the United Center and I’ll show you some die-hard hockey fans. And if the Penguins face the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup finals — well, let’s cross that bridge if the Penguins can even make it.
Seriously though, Pittsburgh has been a great experience. I had always wanted to pick up and move to a totally new city and experience something besides Chicago. Even though I’m going back, this 11-month experience is something that will stay with me forever.
For my last six weeks here, I encourage people to e-mail me about any last minute things in Pittsburgh I should do or experience, before I make my last eight-hour, 500-mile drive back to Chicago. Who knows when I’ll be back.
So thank you to the Jewish community, Pittsburgh in general and especially the individuals who helped me make the transition here.
Yinz are great.
(Mike Zoller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)