I moved to Milwaukee 4 years ago on a bit of a whim. I was transferring schools, but I didn’t know the city, despite having grown up a mere 1-hour car ride away. I didn’t like it. In my mind it was dirty, full of factories, and just…boring. And parking sucked. Even though my hometown is in Wisconsin, most of us considered it the northernmost suburb of Chicago. My dad is from Illinois and has even worked in Chicago throughout my whole life. When I thought about a day of urban galavanting, the city that came to mind was never Milwaukee. City life to me meant riding the L, admiring painted history at the Art Institute, cheering on the Cubs, mostly ignoring the Sears Tower, soothing my blistered feet in the water at Millenium Park, and drinking Jamba Juice while waiting for our train home. Milwaukee was off the radar.
I’ve grown to love Milwaukee more than I thought possible. Now city life means, walking everywhere but still being able to drive to it’s furthest corners, admiring painted history at the MAM, cheering on the Brewers (and Cubs), mostly ignoring the US Bank building, not having blistered feet because walking everywhere is so easy, and drinking locally roasted coffee from Stone Creek in my cream city brick loft.
Despite my newfound affection for Chicago’s little sister, I’ve still always imagined leaving. Probably for Seattle (or maybe it’s little sister, Portland). Why Seattle? I don’t know — it sounded like a place that would suit me. And frankly, on paper, it still does. But after actually visiting Seattle & Portland, a dream died and and my eyes were opened. I missed my sweet Milwaukee. I wanted to cut our honeymoon short and get home to the town where people understood why I could be outraged at the price of corn, why providing a variety of citrus-y IPAs does not make you a good beer city, why I’m always overly polite.
I love my city, but I still can’t escape from the idea that I need different, better. Chicago has always been on my radar. But I think, will I still need different, better? New York — it’s on my list. But still, I think, London? London would be different, better. I’m conflicted. I’m not sure if that’s no way to live or if that’s the best way to live.
I’m conflicted with where I want to live because I’m conflicted with what I want for my life. I want to write. This blog is rarely my best effort. I want to move up in my company — be a large & in charge business woman. I want to be a housewife with homemade dinner on the table and a backyard for Beatrix. I want to travel the world so much that I don’t even need a home.
But I can’t go backwards either. The dark, quiet streets of my hometown make me uneasy. A fancy house and dinner on the table will lose it’s meaning.
Devoting 40+ hours a week to a corporation exhausts me. Caring about consumer goods will lose it’s meaning.
Writing is far-fetched. Dreaming of the NY Times Best Sellers List will lose it’s meaning.
Traveling for an extended time throws my body out of whack and is never the amazing journey I imagine it to be. Also, I have no idea how people afford it. Being a wanderer with no home will lose it’s meaning.
Lately I’ve realized, life is always changing, we’re always evolving. I always want more. I want to know more, do more, be more, but I also really like sitting at home. I like snuggling the night away with Bryce and Beatrix, drinking a good Milwaukee beer, and staring out at that rapidly changing skyline. I can want, know, do, and be more from anywhere. I can want and need all of those things or none of those things despite how far-fetched or potentially meaningless they may be. So I’m working on all of them, but not demanding that I be anything more than what my soul needs at each moment. My city actually does suit me. Milwaukee is relaxed, gentle, yet ambitious. It has it’s flaws and it’s dreams. Milwaukee is changing and evolving. I think I’ll stick around. It’s my first step.
Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
heroics, be humble
start close in,
that other for your own.
– David Whyte