Well, it’s a balmy 8 degrees here today in lovely Madison.
It’s strange being back here because in some ways I feel like I never left but then I look around and things have changed: restaurants have opened and closed, friends have paired up and moved, and minor, disorienting shifts like the new placement of Mother Fools’ water cooler. But then other things are exactly as I remembered them: fluffy white snow and clear blue skies, slippery sidewalks, and the most absurdly friendly people who could possibly exist anywhere.
Being here doesn’t feel good to me but I can’t think of anything that would feel much better. I’m in some weird No Man’s Land right now and I think I need to just push through it. Madison has changed and I’ve changed too and I can’t just slip back into my old life as though I’d never left it. If I’m going to live here, Madison and I will need to make peace with each other on new and perhaps more complicated terms.
When I moved here the first time I was a wide-eyed 22-year-old who’d never been a grown-up in any sense of the word. Madison is the place where I first became acquainted with myself as an adult and it took moving away to help me realize that many of the ways in which I’d come to define myself were shaped by my life in Wisconsin and weren’t necessarily intrinsic to me. Now that I’m back, my relationship with the city has changed and I have to find my place here as an adult. That’s a hard and scary thing to do and part of me wants to run away again but the truth is that I don’t have anywhere safer to run.