When I woke up Saturday, October 27, it was a rainy day in Philadelphia. I had gone out the night before to a party since it was Halloweekend, which is every college student's favorite weekend (besides St. Patrick's Day weekend). I planned on doing some work since I had an essay due Monday but planned on going out again Saturday night.
I still remember waking up to a text from my dad telling me what happened back home.
I'm a Pittsburgh kid through and through. If you were to drop me in the heart of the city, I can direct you to anywhere you needed to go. My parents met in Oakland in the 90s. I live for Saturday mornings shopping in the Strip District. My parents took me to football games for the Pittsburgh Panthers were we would tailgate in one of the lots near the North Shore since my dad is a Pitt alum. I've had so many lunches and dinners in Squirrel Hill. I bleed black and gold.
I will forever proudly wave my Terrible Towel when the Steelers score a touchdown, I always will wear my Phil Kessel shirt on Penguin game day, and I will dream of seeing the day the Pirates are in the World Series.
To me, there is no better place in the universe than this area of Pittsburgh. It is a city with its quirks, but a phenomenal skyline that always captures my heart. Not only the bridges unite the city with its three rivers, but the people are united together through this incredible pride we have. It's a part of who I am. It's my home.
The past couple of days, as I've let my emotions and thoughts sink in, I have had multiple anxiety attacks. My parents were not in the Tree of Life synagogue, but they were in that area of the city. I've laid awake for hours in my bed thinking about what if they had been shot. What if the shooter went on a rampage and my parents were are the wrong place at the wrong time? I mean, my parents probably passed the suspect when they were driving down the road.
It's hard being on the other side of the state, about 304 miles away, and not know what's going on. If I could hop on a bus right now, you best believe I would be rushing to get to my parents. 2 weeks until Fall Break is just too long of a wait for me.
My heart feels broken for the Jewish community in Squirrel Hill as it is a close-knit community as well. I almost broke down crying when I learned among the victims, the oldest was Holocaust survivor herself. It pains me that it is 2018, and even if our president fails to acknowledge it, hate crimes still exist in America. It shouldn't take a tragedy of this magnitude to get attention when racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and so much discrimination occur day to day here in the United States.
Words and actions of hate are not only unwelcome in Pittsburgh, but they are also unwelcome everywhere.
However, I know this city is strong. It is the city of steel, after all, and nothing can break steel. Not only those from Pittsburgh are physically tough, but we are emotionally and mentally tough. We come together in times of crises and help each other. Just by saying you're from the Pittsburgh area, there is this undeniable connection you have with a person.
The next couple of weeks, I am counting down the days until I get home. You can bet the moment I step off my bus from Philadelphia, I will run and hug my parents tight.
Life is too short to not express love to those around you. Pittsburgh is truly the city of love, and I know we can all overcome this sad moment in history together.