a big beautiful mess


The weather in Pittsburgh may not show it, but Autumn is on its way. I can tell in subtle ways — a certain crunching underfoot as I walk to work on a sweaty-hot afternoon; a certain burnished shade to the treetops. And in not-so-subtle ways — the number of languages I hear walking down Craig Street has doubled or tripled or more, as the CMU students spill over from campus at the end of the day. The back-to-school sales are winding down, there are girls in Catholic school uniforms on the streets, the constellation of kids who come to my Spanish lessons at the library has changed as moms reevaluate for the new year.

For me, January 1 has never provided the sense of renewal and hope that September 1 does. Eventually, these veils of humidity will fall away, and the clear cool gold of Autumn will remain. The light will dim, diffuse behind disgruntled clouds, waking up for winter storms, and the library lights will come on. Autumn lets you think, lets you sober up from the sun-drunk months and long, heady afternoons of Summer.

Autumn is a time for leaving — leaving for school, leaving for Russia, leaving for home, leaving for love, for work, for new adventures. It’s a time for bright hopes and remembered dreams. The dream I am remembering is the dream of my Cultural Center. A tiny prototype of that dream is becoming a reality, in the International Family Day I am concocting at the library. An afternoon of languages, stories, cultures, food, family and community coming together to share the things they don’t yet know they have in common. That’s the dream. The harvest is nigh.

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