Chalk it up to the push-pull effect of place that I always feel when I’m here, but there I was:
Thursday night, solidly back home among everything Philly, hitting refresh on all my social media streams for the final score of the Pens game.
Believe me, I wasn’t sure who I was either.
You see, I’m a Philly girl, born and raised. I love and am proud of my hometown.
Most of the time.
Growing up, mine was not a sports family but it didn’t really matter. If you lived in the Philadelphia of the ’70s and ’80s, it was impossible to not cheer for the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, and Flyers. Sports events became part of our births and christenings, our graduations and weddings, all the milestones that make up a life. Athletes were local celebrities, held up as heroes; on neighborhood streets and school playgrounds, every boy I knew dreamed of being Ron Jaworski, Mike Schmidt, Julius Irving, and Bobby Clarke.
I imagine — no, I know — the youth of Pittsburgh experienced a similar phenomenon. Different names, same dreams.
I completely get it, this passion for the home team when living in a sports-crazed town. Even if you’re not a sports person, which I admittedly am not, this loyalty has a way of seeping into your soul.
This summer will mark five years since we moved to Pittsburgh. Although there are aspects of our lives where we still feel like newcomers — our friendships are peripheral, at best; we don’t have the close relationships we have (had?) in Philly; we still get lost when driving — in many ways, this city has become home. My kids identify more with being from Pittsburgh than Philly, as this is the longest stretch of time they’ve lived in one place. They’ve made friends here, my work is here, and hopefully The Husband will again have a job here. Hopefully sooner rather than later.
And speaking for myself, I admit I have embraced most of the Pittsburgh sports teams. I’ll always root for my Eagles, but I admit my cheers are louder for the Steelers. Our family reluctantly abandoned the Phillies years ago in favor of the Yankees, but I’ve discovered there’s a lot to love about the Pirates.
But the Penguins.
I can’t quite get there with the Penguins.
I think it has something to do with this dichotomy I have of being from one place I love and living in another that also has a hold on my heart. Loyalty to a sports team becomes something tangible when you find your identity and sense of place shifting, as I’ve discovered can so easily happen when you move away.
Maybe that’s why I found myself compulsively checking the Penguins score last night. Because as much as I cling to the orange and black, and as much as I felt like an imposter for doing so, a part of me craved that sense of belonging, that rootedness of being home.
This is Post #12 of my 99 Days of Summer Blogging project.