New Year's Eve Shopping

There is something peaceful about the early morning hours in a large city. The streets are serene under a dark sky, the pavement wet and lacking footprints. Storefronts cast a strange glow (if they have windows at all) and sounds are amplified; there is a uniquely wet and delectable sound made by a hefty halibut hitting a metal pushcart.

We made our way into Pittsburgh before the sun had even considered rising. Our route in affords us a vantage point that few major cities can boast about. Imagine for a moment that you are riding along with your eyes covered by a friend and, at the perfect moment, they pull their hands from your eyes and you take in the completeness of Chicago, New York or Pittsburgh. This is the effect one feels as they enter the Ft. Pitt tunnel and emerge on the other side. You can see shades of something fantastic at the other side of the tunnel but you don’t fully breathe it in until it hits you fully the moment you clear the tunnel exit. In a flash, you’re galloping over a river via a massive steel bridge and before you is a gorgeous skyline.

I have been to Chicago and lived to tell the tale. It’s my opinion that Pittsburgh has far more “whoa!” moments, primarily in the form of sudden road merges, splits, exits and entrances, all of which are taken at a break-neck speed. People are generally kind out here (unlike Chicago’s drivers) so things sort themselves in the end. This morning presented little traffic and our commute from the Tunnel to the Strip was brief.

We parked in our favorite lot ($10, holidays you know.) I won’t list all the haunts we visited, but we managed to procure the best deli meats and cheeses (thanks to some very gregarious and very Italian gents behind the counter), dig up the ingredients for Better Half’s red beans and rice, browse the fish and meats at Wholeys (we found a nice rabbit, fresh) and take in breakfast at DeLuca’s.

DeLuca’s is always a treat. Where else can you get a fresh seafood omelet with hollandaise sauce for under $10? We laughed over the ancient dishwasher, which hummed along like the alien signal out of Independence Day.

Better Half bought a woolen hat to match my woolen jacket. I haven’t had a hat with earflaps in years. Here Better Half models it:

Our final stop was across yet another bridge. My aunt has battled cancer for several years now and it’s proven to be a challenge this time around. She’s at Allegheny General. We arrived early and they had brought her downstairs for a PT evaluation (as she’s losing strength in her legs from lack of use.) I’m seriously worried about her.

I’m equally worried about my own mother. She managed to put off seeing the doctor (“it’s the MSG from the Thanksgiving turkey!”) until this week. Her delay means that she’s now battling a wicked infection. I’m so fucking frustrated with her Eeyore defeatist attitude. I don’t use the f word routinely when writing. My apologies. I’m leaving it there because it’s a garish reflection of the anger and sense of helplessness that I’m feeling. I want to fly out there and thank her for depriving me of more years with her; I want to say, “you hold yourself back from moving” and “you don’t need to hold on to stuff.”

When I get my settlement, if I get my settlement, I’m flying out there and packing my parents’ belongings onto a moving van. They can sit in an empty house for all I care – but knowing them, they’ll follow their file cabinets filled with scripts, their clothing, their pots and pans, their food and their bed.

Parents never know what’s best for them. You spend your entire life raising them, seasoning them so that they turn out well rounded after 21 years of upbringing, and they repay you by digging their heels in and being stubborn.

Better Half's Red Beans & Rice
is simmering on the stove

Heavy bags laden with goodies.

0 responded with...: