This week marks five years since your Mommy and I moved from Michigan to Pittsburgh.
(Well, your Daddy was actually living in Charleston, W.Va., for several weeks prior to that on a short-term job, but that’s a longer story.)
Since leaving for college in the fall of 2003, I always regarded a return to Pittsburgh as the Holy Grail — both personally and professionally.
The past five years back in the 4-1-2 have been the most exciting of my 34, from the indescribable moment when you arrived, to buying our first house as the Gajtka Family, to the visceral thrill of working in and around major-league sports.
As 2014 matured into 2019, though, I’ve come to the realization that while the attraction of home is one of the more powerful forces a human being can experience, it’s not destiny.
That is to say, if I never leave this area code for the rest of my life, I can have no regrets. But that sort of fate should be considered a pleasant happenstance, not something to pursue as a priority.
That can be a difficult premise for me to get my head around, especially when living in a place that takes particular pride in proclaiming its merits.
And deservedly so! I think southwestern Pennsylvania is a wonderful area to live, to say nothing of the emotional bond I’ve developed over three decades. I never wanted to succeed anywhere but here.
But I need to come to terms with the reality that, if I want to get where I want to go with my career, I must let go of the thought that our family is bound to the ‘Burgh for life.
While it’s not uncommon in some professions for thirtysomethings to reach stabile, lofty positions, that’s quite rare in the media business, sports-related or otherwise.
For someone like me who aspires to either broadcast or report on major-league sports for a living, that means I’m living with my ear constantly to the ground. That also means I’ve resigned myself to the fact that — if I get where I want to go — it very well might not happen in my de facto hometown.
(Digression: Your Daddy was born in Pittsburgh like you, but he was raised by Grandma and Grandpa 30 miles away in Weirton, W.Va. For that reason, I’ve always considered myself a dual citizen of Almost Heaven and the Steel City.)
For the most part, these jobs I’m pursuing aren’t the kind that people leave very often. We’re talking about a Supreme Court-style, die-in-office type of thing.
After three years covering the big leagues in baseball, hockey and football, it’s odd to feel less attached to Pittsburgh than I was beforehand, but that’s where I am. A little of that comes from how crazy my last full-time gig was, but most of it comes from the notion that I’m a lot closer to the start of my career than the end.
I’ve had a taste, but I want more. That means home has to be a state of mind as much as a literal place. So no matter what happens, I’m a Pittsburgher forever.
And, hey, we’re still three years from you starting kindergarten. Forgive me if I end up dragging you around in the meantime.