Butler PA is an old steel town. We’re about 45 minutes away from Pittsburgh, the best freaking city on the planet. There are more churches than literally anything, most of them some sort of Catholic. Roman Catholic is pretty big. We’ve got a decent population of people from places like Hungary, where my family is from originally. This is my home town, where I’ve lived the vast majority of my life.
Every job I’ve ever had has been here. My daughters were born here. My husband and I got married in Diamond Park, right in front of our historical court house that is still in use. I walk through my memories every day, glimpsing ghosts of the girl and woman I’ve been. I could write a book, and might someday, just of the memories that come back to me when walking Main Street.
Here’s just one of them.
I was walking to the coffee shop one day when a woman walked towards me. She looked pretty hung over, not walking a straight line by any means. She stopped me, and to this day I have no idea why. Maybe because I was a friendly face, or maybe she just needed another woman to be honest with her right then. Maybe she thought I was someone she knew. I don’t think I’d ever seen her before. But she stopped me, and said, “Can I ask you a question? Does my makeup look alright?”
I looked at her, wanting to give her an honest answer. “Yeah, it looks fine,” I finally said.
“Good, because I am so hung over and I’ve got to go to work,” she said, and continued on.
I think it’s fair to say that I have an interesting relationship with my hometown. On the one hand, I really hate it. I’m a liberal, this place runs red. It’s a small town run mostly by small minded people.
But that doesn’t take into consideration the people who live here.
I love my hometown, too. It’s steeped in history, as well it should be. We have one of the oldest theaters in America, Butler Little Theater. My kids and I go see plays there. We have a Main Street full of indie restaurants and coffee shops. I’ve posted pictures of Cummings in my Instagram feed a lot, because it’s such a great looking old building.
There’s a great sense of art here. The symphony does well, there are three music shops, one of the oldest book stores in the state and a great museum of Japanese and Chinese art. (The Maridon. If you’re coming into town, check it out.)
Here’s the best thing about this town, though. It loves the people who live here. When I do a book signing, people ask me where I’m from. I tell them, “I’m from right here in Butler.” And they love that. They love that a girl from Butler is doing something with herself.
As much as I would love to live in Pittsburgh, and someday I will, I don’t know that I could ever really pull away from my love of this place. I’m from here, and that’s never going to change.
If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out Days and Other Stories. It’s my first short story collection, and it’s totally free. Get it here, on Gumroad.