When I first moved to Milwaukee, I had all these expectations of living this over the top awesome life. I was going to be a full-time graduate student living on her own in a pretty diverse and progressive city. I thought I would have free time on the weekends with friends when I would be able to discover the different restaurants, breweries, coffee shops, and hang-out spots. I thought I would have free time period. I thought making friends here would be easy period.
However, my expectations of the city of Milwaukee failed me and led me to become depressed about my move here and actually ended up making me hate Milwaukee for the first 8 months of it.
I didn’t have free time really at all. When I had so-called “free time” I actually was spending time I should’ve been using working on homework so that I could just have some time to spend not thinking or reading or writing papers or lesson planning or grading. My life literally became an endless cycle of finishing one thing and moving onto the next without taking the proper time to breathe or to even really fully accept and appreciate the fact that I had finished something. I didn’t have time.
Secondly, making friends was actually really difficult. First the whole not having time thing really put a damper on the possibility of it. I barely had enough time to sleep properly or enjoy a good Netflix binge let alone have the time to put in the real effort that was necessary to make acquaintances into real actual friendships. Additionally, I found it extremely difficult for me to really connect with anyone for the longest time. I don’t know if it was me or them or combination of both, but the amount of nights I spent feeling alone and out of place here in Milwaukee are endless. I couldn’t even count them up if I wanted to. I will also admit though that I have the hardest time being vulnerable towards people, especially when I feel like they have no interest in actually pursuing a friendship with me. Why push it? I definitely got that feeling more than once with different people.
So, where did that leave me with Milwaukee? What did Milwaukee come to mean to me?
Well, frankly, Milwaukee came to mean “that city that I just so happen to live in and don’t actually feel a part of. The city that I can’t wait to leave behind for a year when I return to France. The city that can go suck it because it never welcomed me fully anyways.”
That’s what Milwaukee came to mean to me.
However, through these past few months or so, in trying to live a happier life, I’ve also been trying to take more chances and open myself up more to people. I think my biggest and main issue is the fact that I really have a very difficult time being vulnerable with new people. I like to remain the mystery, because in doing so I can protect myself from getting hurt again, of which I’ve experienced too much.
Once I started opening up to those around me, especially at my bartending job, I felt like Milwaukee was growing a pair of warm hands that were opening up to me to follow them. Following those hands has been scary. I didn’t want to trust that these new people I had met actually were interested in getting to know the real Lindsey and were interested in accepting all of her, including her quirks and the emotional baggage she struggles with.
I was terrified. Some days I still am.
But I tried. I pushed myself to open up, and now I’m starting to feel that I am at this weird place with Milwaukee. I’m actually starting to like it, and I’m actually starting to feel sad about leaving it.
In making friends, I started developing relationships with people that not only understood the things I’ve been dealing with emotionally and with school but that have also shown me the magical parts of Milwaukee, amazing restaurants, beautiful parks, and stellar bars that I would’ve never discovered myself. My friends have taught me how to laugh again.
I’m finally starting to get to know Milwaukee, to become intimate with it.
Though this makes my heart happy, becoming more intimate with it means that leaving it is that much harder. I know that I’ll be back. I’ll have another year of school to finish at least, but I’m still going to miss this place that I’m finally starting to consider home.
In realizing my new found home, I’ve also started pondering the fact that I feel like I’m always leaving and always in transition, and it’s kind of a shitty feeling. Just when I feel like I’m starting to become a part of something, I’m going to turn around and leave.
I am very saddened and frustrated by that. I truly am. There will come a point in my life where I do need to be settled, at least for more than a year. I love traveling and experiencing the opportunities to live abroad and to travel, but I am slowly starting to recognize that I am someone that will travel all across the world but in addition needs a place to call home, to come back to after I’ve been visiting the world for a little while.
On the other side of that feeling, however, is the feeling of being on the edge of the world. As I stood on the roof deck of the apartment building of a friend of a friend overlooking Milwaukee’s downtown, I couldn’t help but to feel and to remember this feeling, this feeling of breathing in the beauty of the world, the beauty of the diversity of the world. I was having an out of body experience, recognizing how much bigger the world is than my everyday. That’s a really disorienting and magical feeling.
Additionally, being in transition and traveling have allowed me to meet so many people, experience so many things, and to gain a whole new perspective on life. This is why I’m in transition and why I will continue to be in transition, at least for now. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t have it any other way. That feeling of being on the edge of the world, of understanding it in its full capacity and feeling more a part of the breathing life of the world as opposed to just being a bystander is something that is so magical that I can’t even explain, nor do I want to give it up.
So, yes, for now, the comfort of finally being a part of something and being settled in one place is something that I have to keep giving up, at least temporarily, so that I can fully embrace this world with all my capabilities.
So, this isn’t goodbye Milwaukee, it’s just see you later, and see you later I will. I just have to go have some more adventures for awhile.