Follow the black-and-gold brick road …

I had the pleasure of being in Pittsburgh this weekend to watch the Steelers kick San Francisco’s collective asses over a yummy South Shore Steak and Egg sammich. And it occurred to me that the only time it’s acceptable for a couple to sit on the same side of a four-person table is when they are watching the Steelers play on a plasma screen, plain and simple.

Oddly, while I was at the bar (Fathead’s), I ran into someone else from college. (See here for the previous day’s encounter.) We didn’t talk — I didn’t really have the balls to go talk to him, even though we were really close in school. (He was the one we called ‘Fro Bro, again for those who remember. Holy memory lane, people.)

I had gone to the restroom and planned to say hi to him, as he was at the bar. But he was gone when I returned. Oh well. It’s not like I was looking for meaningful conversation — I just wanted to see that he’s doing OK. It occurred to me that we graduated from college 10 1/2 years ago. A veritable lifetime, by all standards.

But I’m sure he keeps in contact with at least one person that I’m still close to. That’s the thing — we had a solid group that started at Point Park in ’92. It’s weird — the group was so diluted by the ’93 arrivals. (Well, more that dummy me grew apart from the true friends for maybe more-exciting, but certainly less-loyal, individuals.) I miss that old group with Janna, the Chrises, Robyn, Jody, Becky, Ryan, Lisa, Isadora, Stephanie, Patti, Kristin, Scoots, John-Boy and pretty much everyone who lived on the 18th floor in ’92-’93. A part of me even wants to list their last names in case they go Googling themselves, because I’d love to know where some of them ended up.

But the good thing is, everyone knows how to get in touch with someone from that era — if you want to know how so-and-so is doing, you call such-and-such. This group, no matter how much drama arose, is still fundamentally one that wishes the best for each other.

So, I don’t think it was that ‘Fro Bro saw me and left — I think it was probably that the Steelers had won (yeah!) and it was time to go back home. Him to the South Side and me to Southwest (D.C., that is).

I think about what I miss most from my college years. It was the way I felt with this group of friends. I said anything. I could do anything. I had the most-solid support system around. I think, on some bizarre level, we were all in love with each other. There was just this, I don’t know, magic that drew us all together. You always felt safe and loved. You weren’t always watching your back because someone invariably had it. If we hurt each other, it wasn’t ever on purpose. I miss those days and those people more than they can possibly know.

They also had no problem telling me when I was making foolish decisions and tried to support me even when they disagreed with my choice of new friends. And they were so right. I can say that now. But I didn’t know it then. Or maybe I did and I still didn’t care. Yes, we all annoyed the shit out of each other — that’s what roommates, lovers, friends and some combination thereof tend to do. But the love in that circle, especially in the core group of us that did stay close till graduation and beyond, is impossible to replicate.

So, while I truly have no plans to go back to Pittsburgh ever, because every trip ends up being a goddamned disaster (y’all can come visit me. Seriously), it’s a place that I will always miss in my heart. When I get there, I can’t wait to leave. But when I haven’t been back for awhile, I long for the scenery, the people, the friendliness, the love of the black-and-gold, and the familiarity of it all.

If you who are still up there see someone I knew, tell them that I’m hoping life turned out the way they hoped it would. And if anyone sees Ryan, tell him it was good to see a familiar face, even if he didn’t see mine. And if anyone’s interested in reconvening our old rock band, Blood Clot and the Constipated Cats, I’m always down for a jam session. 😉

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