Can't Pee in Pittsburgh
A gray and blue city, speckled with pastel squares lining an elevated countryside - she’s an oasis of manufacturing in the middle of the Pennsylvania hills.
A few weeks ago, Misha, with a little sparkle in his eye, exclaimed that he had a great idea for our next Monday adventure: a day trip to Pittsburg. With some reservation, I asked the question I always ask when he brings up cities that seem a little out of day-trip range, “how far is it?”
“Only 4.5 hours! I’ll drive, of course! We’ve never been to Pittsburg” Misha exclaimed.
“We could totally leave the night before, after church, and sleep in the car!”
Wait, did I say that?
First, let me say, sometimes I am shocked by how much of a participant I am in these not-so-good, certain-to-be-uncomfortable adventure plans. I think it might be a mixture of wanting our time together to last as long as possible, and knowing that the suggestion of sleeping in the car speaks directly to one of Misha’s most hungry love languages - frugality. The suggestion of sleeping in the car is almost a gift to him. It’s like someone offering him the most beautiful sugar cookie, warm, with glistening pearled icing dripping from the edges. He thinks it’s $5, but all of a sudden, a cookie coupon shows up out of nowhere, and no monetary sacrifice is required to get his hands on this delightful morsel. It wouldn’t make sense not to take it! Similarly, the offering of a free night of adventure, even saddled with inevitable discomfort, is just too… free… to pass up.
So, Misha, Roo, and I left Sunday night and slept in the car, parked in a grocery store lot about an hour outside of the city. We shared a blanket between the two of us, reclining in the front seats of our compact car, and Roo slept right in the middle on top of the emergency break.
In spite of roadside lights that turned on mid-might, and a strangely busy McDonalds nearby, we slept OK.
I think it was around 6AM that we started off again, making our way through winding hills and beautiful chains of lakes, and noticing the vibrant greens that awake a few weeks earlier than near our home. Something about reaching the foothills of a mountain chain feels refreshing. It’s strange and exciting for me to think that every day while I’m sitting at my desk in Howell, Michigan, these green hills are here - just hanging out and being breathtaking. Seeing them again reminds me why we need adventure.
When we finally made it to Pittsburg, we stopped for coffee, of course! We visited Constellation Coffee in the trendy Lawrenceville Pittsburg. The coffee was fantastic, and beans beautifully packaged (bonus points). I just want to mention here that we could have used the cafe's restroom. We didn’t.
Second stop was Grandview avenue. Standing far above the city, it’s no wonder how it received it’s name; this elevated drive (lined with sidewalk) overlooks the greater part of Pittsburg, and offers the most stunning views. This area is also very cute and relaxed, with lots of shops, parking, and retirees walking their overweight pups. We walked about a mile, taking in the view and the sunshine. At this time, Misha mentioned he had to pee.
Third stop was The Strip District - a neighborhood filled with international grocery stores, little shops, good restaurants, and pop-up sidewalk produce stations. There are also legitimately zero public restrooms here; this lead to us searching for a place to pee for about an hour and a half. We totally could have spent a few bucks and bought a potty-access-creating coffee. But, like I said, Misha is very frugal. And, I didn’t want to push it. However, at some point, we both looked at each other and agreed that we were wasting our day. So, we decided to walk the two miles to Riverfront Plaza to Point State Park, just alongside the great yellow Clemente Bridge.
If you know anything about Pittsburg, you know that the color yellow is virtually everywhere. The professional sports teams proudly sport yellow gear. Each giant stadium is a bright yellow and black. Every major bridge is a tower of face-slapping yellow. At some point I felt like the city was mocking our situation.
The strangest part is that neither Misha or I can remember when we actually found that… relief… we were looking for. But at some point between sitting under a large yellow bridge, and completing the two mile walk back to our car, it happened without any uncomfortable or embarrassing circumstance. So, that’s good.
I guess you really can pee in Pittsburg.
Anywho, the last stop before heading back to Michigan was Pamela’s diner, back in the Strip District. We had a tasty breakfast for lunch, and headed home.
The lesson we learned from our Pittsburg adventure: sometimes you can plan to be uncomfortable, and that’s ok. Sometimes not planning can make you uncomfortable, and that's to be expected. The important thing as that we get out there, together, to see new things and to be reminded that the world is full of beauty.
Mash Illustration + Design Connection: This trip really made me think about the importance of planning ahead with your goals in mind. Sometimes it makes sense to sacrifice. I think this is a concept we who are entrepreneurs are all too familiar with. But, remembering the "why" behind our every day work, and creating short- and long-term goals in line with that "why" keeps us on track, and helps us avoid the discomforts in business that are not necessary or helpful. I know I am spending this season really thinking about how to make my business work in a way that supports daily flexibility, health, and a financial situation that puts our family in a position to be generous. And, for me, that starts with thinking hard about the types of commissioned work to avoid versus take-on. It has also pushed me to explore options for generating passive income. I hope taking a moment to reflect on planning and your "why" will be beneficial to you and your business, too!
I would love hear about your Monday (or any day) adventures!! Please use the hashtag #amondayadventure (you'll see my adventures here, too!), and tag me @mashillustrationanddesign!
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