Tag Archives: Pittsburgh

Defeating the winter doldrums, one couch at a time

That old, familiar urge is returning. No, wait, that’s not quite accurate. The Wild Feeling never disappears completely; it does, like the moon, wax and wane, however.

So far in February, as it always does this time of year, it has waxed more than waned. Maybe it’s the weather and the never-ceasing snow that’s crammed a certain Cabin Fever mentality into every inch of my being.

It’s safe to say I’m done with the snow. I yearn for flowers and singing birds and warm weather and late night bike rides.

So instead I did what most reasonable people do in February, the dread of winter: Take road trips, eat warm, hearty food in restaurants with windows covered in condensation and drink pale ales in frosty glasses in the company of loved ones.

First on our road trip itinerary was IKEA for a new couch, and after way too much time there we dropped by the Incline for a ride with the “third most romantic view in the U.S.,” according to MSN.com.

I can’t protest, especially as Jess and I had the car to ourselves on the way down the hill overlooking Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle.

Jess overlooking the city of Pittsburgh

Despite a little poor planning on our part, a trio of ladies, two from Boston, one a native ‘burgher, offered us the fare needed to get back up the hill and after a quick conversation with the native, who happened to be vegan, too, we cemented our decision for dinner (her recommendation was the third or so we’d gotten).

But first! Beer! We made our way to OTB, a hipster-ish bar on Pittsburgh’s E. Carson Street, dedicated to all things bikes. The misc. bike parts and bikes hanging from the walls and the murals of BMX, Mountain Bike and road racers only further stoked my itch to get outside. Fortuantely, the can of Dale’s Pale I consumed distracted me from my desire to hop on my bike as soon as possible (seriously, beer with an actual taste? In a can? Where can I buy it by the truckload?).

After that, it was time for some grub.

The Quiet Storm, Pittsburgh's best vegetarian/vegan restaurant.

The restaurant where we dined, aptly named Quiet Storm, specializes in vegetarian and vegan food (what else?), but had a BYOB alcohol policy. So after ordering our meals, I ventured back out into the Pittsburgh cold, slushing my way through sidewalks walled in by snow to make it to a small grocery store less than a block away. A sixer of Magic Hat #9 under my arms, I returned ready to imbibe with my girl.

Jess sipping a little Magic Hat #9, her self-proclaimed new favorite brewski.

The weather kept the crowd in the restaurant sparse, so there was a peaceful silence cast over the atmosphere as day turned to dusk outside. It was easy to then focus on nothing but our food and our beer and each other. Our conversation revolved around music and books and the practicality of buying a couch for our Valentine’s Day present to each other.

It might not sound like the most romantic of gifts, but it earned the approval of her married-for-35-years mother, who remarked that the purchase “made sense.”

Still, as much sense as it might make, all I could think about was spending evenings cuddling up on a couch together for the first time really in our relationship. Jess and I spent our first year commuting to each other’s apartment and house, but neither of us had a couch in all that time. I had a loveseat that hardly inspired love it was so small, and Jess had a vinyl orange thing without arms or a stable back rest.

When we’d get home with our IKEA couch put together, I envisioned, we’d spend long, lazy evenings cuddled together with books and Jim Jarmusch movies and season three of The Wire. My sense of romance may be off — I do have two ‘X’ chromosomes, after all — but to me nothing sounds more romantic — and a better recipe for defeating the winter doldrums — than that.

Jess and I at the Incline's Observation Deck.