There are things that I like about living in Pittsburgh, and things I'm not so wild about, but what I am most ambivalent about is the driving. I miss the extensive, speedy bus system I enjoyed in Brooklyn. Pittsburgh has a good bus system, but by choosing to live in a suburb, I've narrowed my ability to take the bus considerably. For two days out of my week, I must be on campus until 9 PM. The last bus to my town goes at 9:30. I genuinely have no idea what I'd do if I missed that bus, and it's such a close call, I'm preferring to drive into campus right now. When I can, though, I take the bus.
And when I can't, I'm back on the road. I'm not a good driver. This is a truth I hold about myself, and I have plenty of evidence to back it up -- car accidents and dumb incidents (ask Roo to tell you about the time I drove my car onto a median strip on our college campus: His favorite part is when the AAA guy shows up to rescue me and has trouble not openly calling me a moron) and a few friends speculating on the decreasingly likehood that they'll ever get in the car with me again.
I've gotten better, but only because I am very, very cautious and remind me myself of the details frequently: check to make sure the lights are off; check over my shoulder before merging (AT LEAST TWICE); check to make sure that there's no one exiting the parking lot at the same time as me (AT LEAST TWICE). I still haven't had anyone in the car with me while driving here besides Roo. As I explained to a visiting friend, "I'll drive, or you can drive and we can talk about something other than just what my next turn will be."
But! At the same time, I'm learning to know Pittsburgh by driving. Leaving campus the other night, I was surprised when my iPhone's GPS sent me through Squirrell Hill towards home, instead of immediately back out onto 376, the highway that runs through and around the 'Burgh. It was fun to drive by the little shops and restaurants, and I want to go back. On Friday, I drove to a warehouse-turned-artists' studio space, and got a little lost finding where to park. But what a cool area to end up in: warehouse-y, and 1800'sish and such. On Saturday, I drove from the same warehouse to Schenley Park, where my department was having a picnic, and then, from there, on my way home, through the park. I drove on a street called "Overlook Drive" and was just wondering why it was called that -- true story -- when I saw the view that I snapped above, which made me gasp aloud. That's Downtown Pittsburgh.
For a few minutes, anyway, I felt like I was exactly where I wanted to be, and when I was ready to go, I had the capacity to drive myself away.