Love Note #4: The Oh-Sh!t, I'm homesick note

You were all waiting for it, especially you – yes you, my friends and family who thought I was just doing this whole Milwaukee thing for few months and then I nonchalantly said I was actually moving here. While you've all been so supportive in my move here, I get that it gets obnoxious to hear just how wonderful and magical somewhere else, somewhere where you're not, is. As many times as I've been the person moving away, I've had to wave goodbye just as often. Therefore, I get that even though it's sad to hear your friend/family member is homesick it's nice to know they still have feelings and attachments to the people and place they've moved away from. So, yes friends, yes family, while things are still amazing here in the midwest, I miss you. And this homesick feeling felt like a sucker punch.

Let's back up though because my last note was written a month ago! I had a bi-monthly plan but summer was fast and furious (not like the film franchise but not unlike the film franchise either...). August was full of so many events and adventures. In my last post I talked about the event I helped organize on The Beerline Trail Extension. The weekend immediately following that big production, I helped put together a dinner on the project that I was brought out here to work on. This project lives within the Beerline Trail Neighborhood Development Project as well but instead of being something that happens directly on the trail, it lives inside the Storybuilding initiative which works to build community off the trail. The project is a cookbook that will gather healthy and easy-to-prepare recipes inspired by family/community recipes but we also want to talk about the importance of gathering and eating together as a family, neighborhood and community. In order to really talk about this we decided we needed to actually host some dinners! Luckily, my new friend Ellie Jackson (who let's me come on her radio show All the Things just about whenever I feel like it) was eager to host the first dinner! With her enthusiasm for hosting/cooking, a great backyard and a little Martha Stewart-like magic that I like to pull out for occasions just like these - a dinner party was born! It was small, smaller than I imagined, but the food was delicious and the conversation was rich. And while I had all these expectations that didn't exactly materialize in the way I thought they would, looking back, it was a success. We came together to sit down and eat together in hopes to form connection. And for whatever reason the act of having a meal together, particularly when it's at somebody's home, a closeness forms. And I think that night, this certainly did happen.

Photo by: Adam Carr

The night of the dinner, also happened to be the night after the Milwaukee riots – I for one felt so removed from the riots. I had been at a bar across town and watched the gas station burning on television much like all the people who asked if I was okay the next day or so. As a newcomer, I wasn't really sure how to react to these riots. I know the history of this city and it's no secret that it's the most segregated city in the country. And of course, anger, fear and a whole range of complex emotions are woven into the different neighborhoods and communities. That being said, my Milwaukee has been full of amazingly diverse, progressive, open-minded, warm-hearted creative group of people. And these people, love Milwaukee, for better and worse and are all doing something to work against the awful history and to change the statistics. While the riots didn't directly put any of the people I've come to know over the last few months in physical danger, there were a lot of emotional repercussions across the board. Having dinner to talk about the pain these riots have causes was so necessary, so important. 

Outside of work events, I have had some real important adventures. The first being, Wisconsin State Fair. Not only was this my first time at the Wisconsin State Fair, I'm pretty sure this was my first time at a state fair period! It was completely overstimulating but so much fun. We slid down the Giant Slide on a burlap sack, we visited calfs and cows, we watched pigs race around a track while two fat men in overalls acted as our announcers, we drank cold beer with fried cheese curds, we had a giant cream puff for dessert, we took a ride on the sky glider so we could get to the carnival section with all the crazy rides and games, we spent about $4 to go in a silly glass fun house and this was all to the soundtrack of some pretty terrible cover bands playing at multiple stages throughout. Will I go back to the state fair next year? You better believe it!

Another fun adventure I took in August was very much the opposite of the state fair. A few of us headed out to Arena, Wisconsin, which is a couple hours away, to go canoeing and camping. It was an overcast day when we headed out and despite knowing that rain was coming, we decided to go on our camping adventure anyway. I think the impending weather scared off many people, so we were some of the only people canoeing! This made for taking in the absolutely gorgeous scene even better. We even saw a bald eagle! I'm pretty sure this was the first time I've ever seen a bald eagle in the wild – welcome to Wisconsin! We canoed to an unclaimed sand bar and set up camp. We got real lucky with weather and had a few hours of fun to make dinner and roast s'mores. Not long after it got completely dark though it started to pour. And this is how I learned that if your tent comes with a tarp, obviously make sure the tarp doesn't come out past the tent or else it will act as a funnel for rain and your tent will flood! While I love camping, #campingfails remind me that I'm pretty much as city as you get. But hey, I'm trying to change that! That being said, if you have a OuterEQ Camping Sleeping Bag (seriously, I can't recommend this sleeping bag enough!), eat enough s'mores and drink enough Twisted Teas, you might not even notice your tent is flooding until your tent-mate wakes up and realizes she's basically drowning. At that point though all you can do is laugh and that's exactly what we did.

When I got back from camping, a certain annoying string of events happened prompting me to move out of the place I was staying immediately. In turn, my last couple of weeks in August were mostly spent moving in and getting settled into my new place. My new place is exciting for a lot of reasons but mostly I'm just excited to live in a place I don't plan on moving from for at least a little while. Technically in 3 months, I've lived in 3 different places and that's just too much!

So now it's September and I'm settled in my new apartment and Milwaukee is starting to feel like the place I live and not just the place I'm just visiting. And since this isn'y my first time at the moving-to-a-new-city rodeo, I know that this transition time is exactly when homesickness creeps in. Except that I forgot about this! I always forget about this! Moving to a new place is always so exciting – everything is new and shiny! You're too busy to care about what you're missing from the place you left because getting acquainted with a new place is time consuming and distracting. Even if you have a routine (which as an artist and a freelancer, I barely have one) it's still a new routine and at least temporarily more interesting than any routine you had in the last place you lived. When all that newness wears off – BAM! Home sickness. And to be honest, I'm not homesick for Boston, the place, I'm homesick for the people. While I have an incredible little network here, it still feels very, well, little. I'm not new anymore but I still have so much to learn and so much to adapt to be 100% comfortable here. Unfortunately, there is no rushing this process. Being able to call a place home simply just takes time. The good news is I'm pretty confident that Milwaukee will be another city I feel home at – there are too many great people here for it not to feel that way. As for the homesickness, while it comes with a whole range of feels that aren't fun to have, it will pass, it always does.