In case you a.) don't live in Pittsburgh or b.) have been living under a rock, there are some exciting new things happening in my fair city. Some exciting new films, I should say. "The Dark Knight Rises" hasn't started filming yet (at least, I haven't heard anything...) but "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" has.
"Perks" is based on the novel by the same name, written by Upper St. Clair native Stephen Chbosky. The novel is based outside of Pittsburgh, which explains the filming (PS--they were spotted up the street from my office last week). While I loved the book for many reasons in high school, this will forever be the highlight for me:
There’s something about that tunnel that leads to downtown. It’s glorious at night. Just glorious. You start on one side of the mountain, and it’s dark, and the radio is loud. As you enter the tunnel, the wind gets sucked away, and you squint from the lights overhead. When you adjust to the lights, you can see the other side in the distance just as the sound of the radio fades because the waves just can’t reach. Then, you’re in the middle of the tunnel, and everything becomes a calm dream. As you see the opening get closer, you just can’t get there fast enough. And finally, just when you think you’ll never get there, you see the opening right in front of you. And the radio comes back even louder than you remember it. And the wind is waiting. And you fly out of the tunnel onto the bridge. And there it is. The city. A million lights and buildings and everything seems as exciting as the first time you saw it. It really is a grand entrance.
I don't know that I've ever read a better description of the feeling you get when you drive through the Ft Pitt tunnels and catch sight of the city for the first time. One of my favorite blogs, That's Church, captured it pretty well here. But nothing catches it quite like "Perks" for me.
He's right. It's absolutely glorious. I can't go through that tunnel fast enough to get to the other side and see my city. I've done that drive more times than I can count on all of my fingers and toes. But it really always feels like I'm seeing it for the first time. Except it's almost better, because I have this image in my mind of what it's going to be like and inevitably, Pittsburgh outdoes itself. Like the city got all dressed up just for me--took time to shine every pane of glass and replace every light bulb because somehow, Pittsburgh knew I'd be driving through that tunnel. But that's how it looks for everyone.
I vaguely remember a time in high school where I didn't want to live in Western PA, but it was a fleeting moment. I've loved a lot about this City for a long time. However, it only occurred to me very recently that I can make a career out of loving Pittsburgh. Want me to plant some trees? Sure, will do. Need someone to tweet all day about what's going on in the City? Pass me a laptop (or iPad or smartphone or even a desktop...) and I'll get to work. I'll drive the street sweepers. Yinz guys, this place has my heart. I'll tell everyone I can that I'm working to make the City of Pittsburgh a better place.
And if any jagoffs question it, I'll drive them through the Ft. Pitt tunnel. Then they'll understand.