As many of you know, my heart is always, and always be, very loyal to my home state of Wisconsin. In the almost six years that I’ve been away (four for college, two for my current job), I’ve come to realize homesickness is something that will never go away. Wisconsin is too much a part of who I am for it to ever leave. It sounds so beyond corny, I know, but I truly believe part of my heart is constantly in Wisconsin and with my family.
What follows is my list of things I love about Wisconsin. My hope is that it A) allows people who haven’t visited it to understand a bit of why I love it and B) gives my fellow Wisconsinites a chance to smile and nod.
1) The green. Living in deep South Texas now, I miss vivid green vegetation. When I went home for my sister’s college graduation in May, I was completely overwhelmed when I woke up my first morning back, walked downstairs and saw this.
Honestly, it took my breath away. I never realized how beautiful it was when I grew up there. And the air! I swear I’m not exaggerating when I saw the air is so FRESH there. Maybe it’s just because the around-the-clock heat in Texas makes it extremely muggy here, but I literally just walked around outside taking deep breaths when home. It was magical.
2) The camping. Some of my best childhood memories come from our annual family camping trips. Devil’s Lake State Park is probably my all-time favorite.
Funny story about Devil’s Lake: I don’t remember how old we were, but my sister Amanda and I had a pup tent at some point. We were SO excited about it. But the sad reality was that the pup tent was really only meant for a single Cub Scout, and not two young girls. We woke up early the next morning SOAKED because we had touched the sides of the tent when sleeping, letting all the dew and moisture in. We were cold and shivering, but didn’t wake up our parents (our mom takes mornings very seriously, something I take after her), so somehow our next best option was apparently to climb up a tree together and huddle for heat? I still don’t know how that made sense, but that’s what we did. And then we were stuck. Our dad rescued us an hour or two later (who knows) and warmed us up with a campfire. Good times.
3) The food. If there’s one thing I’m good at when it comes to being an ambassador for Wisconsin, it’s getting people to love good cheese and summer sausage as much as I do.
Now I’m hungry. Ugh, but the food is all seriously so good. And if you’ve never been to a Culver’s before, you have truly never lived. No joke. The way Texans feel about Whataburger is the way the Midwest feels about Culver’s. But (and I know I’m getting dangerously controversial now), I say it’s better because Whataburger has burgers. Culver’s has burgers, cheese curds AND custard. Everything you could ever possibly want, right there. I don’t know why I’m torturing myself by talking about this, so moving on…
4) The festivals. I am always thankful I grew up just outside Milwaukee, because basically everything in the state happens there. The summer is the best time to be there with a festival every weekend basically, all starting with the ginormous music party that is SummerFest. From there, there’s German Fest, Irish Fest, Polish Fest, Festa Italiana, Bastille Days, etc. I loved living in an area that celebrates all the cultures there. And then it all wraps up with the Wisconsin State Fair, which is just a wonderland of all that is great about Wisconsin.
5) The sports. Anyone who knows me knows this was coming. I adore Wisconsin sports, particularly the Packers, Badgers and Brewers. In one way or another, those teams helped make up my childhood. The first time I ever remember being completely overcome with joy was when the Packers won the 1996 Super Bowl. As a 10-year-old, I wrote in my diary that I wanted to go to college and be a Badgers cheerleader (which didn’t happen, but it’s cute). One of the most peaceful things in the world to me is a Saturday afternoon at home with Bob Uecker announcing the Brewers on the radio playing in the background.
Due to Paul Ryan’s recent upgrade to vice presidential candidate, I’ve noticed nearly every photo of him with his family is all of them completely decked out in Packers and Badgers gear. Let me assure you: This is completely normal. We’re proud of our teams beyond what others understand.
6) The location. When people ask what has been the biggest adjustment about moving to south Texas, my answer takes some by surprise. It’s the distance between here and a “large” city, which is either three hours away in Corpus Christi or four hours away in San Antonio, depending on your personal definition. I never realized how fortunate I was to live where I did in Wisconsin, since Milwaukee always has something happening, Madison is only an hour away, and Chicago is only an hour and a half away. It’s just different living separated from a metropolitan area.
I’m sure there’s more, but that’s what I got for now. Of course, I can’t mention home and Wisconsin (I still haven’t stopped referring to Wisconsin as “home,” even after my move) without saying my family is a huge part of it. I’d be happy being anywhere they are, but them + Wisconsin = the best.
Wisconsin, I’m missing you, but thanks for always making coming home sweet.