Nearly two years after I first moved into my tiny little railroad apartment on your East Side, three stories up, surrounded by churches, Irish music, and limited parking, I’m moving out. Not unlike Anthony and Billy Joel, movin’ out so I can move up in the world. Finally, it’s time for me to try to break into the exciting world of museums. But here’s the thing, Milwaukee—you’ve helped me do that, and I’m forever grateful. I’ll miss you dearly for many reasons. All of the friends I’ve made here, your cheese curds, the University campus and my department, walking down to the Art Museum on Lake Michigan or sitting in the garden outside my window. Driving down Wisconsin Avenue during when the Christmas lights are up and everything looks like fairyland. Boswell Book Company. All the churches. Driving past the Pabst Theater. The drive-through window at the Public Library. My neighborhood Panera. The Downer and Oriental Theaters. Last week, I went to every day of Bastille Days since it was in my neighborhood, and I’ve never felt more part of the Milwaukee community.
Of course, there are things I won’t miss. The menacing colonies of seagulls. The way the lake sometimes smells like rotten eggs. Your parking laws. January and February. Seriously, Milwaukee, if I’ve learned one thing from you, it’s that it’s possible for your snot to freeze inside your nose. The frost patterns on my windows were really pretty, but some days I felt like crying as soon as I stepped outside but couldn’t, because then my tears would freeze to my face. But despite all this, I’ve seen Lake Michigan freeze over and watched snow fall softly at all hours, making the world bright and beautiful at least until I have to go out in it again. So thank you, Milwaukee, for teaching me that I can survive winter.
So, Milwaukee, I’m leaving behind lots of things I love. Take care of them for me, until my next visit. I’ve grown up a lot here, and while I haven’t loved every minute of it, I wouldn’t trade my last two years for a lifetime supply of peanut M&Ms. Like Phil Collins said, you’ll be in my heart. Like Georgia, you’ll be on my mind. Thank you for helping me grow into the woman I’m meant to become. Thank you for being my home.
P.S. Winter is from December 21 to March 21. Mark your calendar.