The Unexpected Joys of Rediscovering Your Hometown

Molly marches with the Center for Theater Arts in the 2003 Lebo Halloween parade.

The era of traveling, moving and adventuring is more prevalent than ever, as remote work surged over the last few years, providing a greater flexibility to where people call home. As a 2021 graduate of Miami of Ohio where I double-majored in marketing and professional writing, I felt the pressure to move to a big, bustling city. But, while many of my friends did just that and utilized the option of remote work to discover new cities, I used graduating college as an opportunity to rediscover the magic of my hometown, Pittsburgh.

Although I grew up in Upper St. Clair and lived in the Strip District for the past year, I recently decided to relocate to Mt. Lebanon. I always felt drawn to the quaint streets and the ideal location. My decision was solidified one morning as I walked through the heart of the community. The sun was shining through the trees, a sight I missed while living in downtown where trees and brush are scarce.

The people I passed on the street all greeted me with a smile and seemed to be enjoying their mornings rather than rushing into the day, another uncommon sight in the heart of the city. There were children walking, jogging and skipping on their way to class, watched over by the crossing guards. It was an idyllic sight as the morning walk appeared to energize them on their way to school.

I popped into Uptown Coffee and admired the genuine conversations of residents running into each other before starting their day. I was amazed at how they seemed to remember so many details about each other’s lives despite not seeming to be the closest of friends. These passing conversations about work, family life, vacation plans and more inspired me to slow down my pace of life and take uninterrupted time to listen and catch up with friends, even when it seems like life is whizzing past me.

I started to realize the beauty of a familiar routine when a dad and daughter in line behind me were sharing the joy of seeing a sprinkle cookie in the pastry case that day. I could tell that this was a simple daily ritual that the two of them bonded over, and I knew this little girl would look back on these days and cherish the time that her dad set aside for her before his hectic work day started.

Although it was a short morning spent in Uptown, it reminded me of the days I used to spend in the area as a kid. Feeling nostalgic, that night I rustled through old photographs and found pictures of me and my older sister marching through Uptown with the Center for Theater Arts in the Halloween parade. Although my theater career was very short lived, I found it endearing that at 5 years old I was walking past the Saloon and Rollier’s, unbeknownst to me that at nearly 25 years old I would be shopping at Rollier’s for garden supplies for my new Lebo apartment and celebrating my friend’s birthdays at the Saloon.

While my college friends continue to have new experiences in the Chicagos, Bostons, and New York Citys of the world, I’ve been busy experiencing my hometown area and Mt. Lebanon through a brand new perspective. As the years pass, more and more of my friends are migrating to Mt. Lebanon and I now have a dozen or so old high school friends in the area to re-experience the magic of our hometown area together.

Molly, along with some old and new friends, in 2023.