Eight years, nineteen days ago, I arrived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in a convoy from Atlanta consisting of a ten-foot cargo truck and a slightly battered green ‘95 Honda Civic with about ninety thousand miles on it, and moved into a seven hundred square foot third-floor walk-up with central air one block off Walnut in Shadyside with my fiancée.
Most of the contents of that truck are gone now, and the Civic was totaled in a relatively minor accident last spring. My fiancée became my wife became my ex. And I'm back in Shadyside, staying at a hotel built where a car dealership's stock overflow lot stood on my arrival.
Tomorrow, I drive back to Memphis, in a fifteen-foot cargo truck carrying somewhat less, by volume, than what I came in with. There I'll store the stuff I couldn't bring myself to sell, or throw away, before flying off to Zürich via Atlanta and, er, Newark. From a purely material point of view, these eight years have netted me as near to zero as is measurable, until you count the outstanding house debt, that is.
From a material point of view, it's weird the things I'm taking away from here. It's especially weird when I see it all listed out nice and neat, which it turns out I have to do if I want to enter Switzerland with my stuff without paying 7.6% MwSt as import duty. From the manifest of box A101: "...1 box Staedtler colored pencils. 1 HP 48G calculator. 1 glass coin dish. 1 bicycle tire inner tube..." This is as much an organized projection of my inner lack of organization as it is anything else.
But it's not the material point of view that's the important one. Pittsburgh's taught me a lot of things, some of which I even bothered to learn. It's introduced me to people I'm glad to know, or to have known. Thank you, to those of you who made my time here more interesting. And thank you especially to those of you who, over the past few weeks, have helped me to leave.