Saturday, July 10, 2010

Missing Madison

We returned from our midwest-ish bicycling/camping tour one week ago, and I can't believe how much I'm missing Wisconsin. I know that it's easy to idealize a vacation (you're not working, you have no stress of any sort and nothing to side track you that isn't a fun diversion), but I really fell in love with the city of Madison.

I think that growing up in California, we are taught that California is the be-all, end-all of everything in the States. We believe (and I truly don't think that the natives there think that they're better than anyone consciously) that NY and Cali are the exciting areas, and the rest of the US is filler. It's where our crops come from, it's the place where all the hill-folk, country-folk, and those who dress badly choose to live. I'm not sure I was even aware that I had this mental conditioning as part of me until we were planning this little adventure/trip. When we moved to Colorado seven years ago, I remember longing to be back in California. I missed the beaches, I missed my friends (and sometimes family) and it just felt as though I'd been torn away from a part of me. Over time, I realized that Colorado is actually much like California and that there are so many Californians in this state, that it's almost as though the mentality is very similar (at least in the areas of the state I am frequently visiting or a part of). I'm not sure what it is, but there's a certain sense of entitlement... and I don't even mean money-wise or even really in the acquiring of possessions, but rather more of a thought that the individual is more important than the whole. In some sense, I get this as it's important to look out for yourself, but in another, I find it a bit strange.

We've lived in Colorado for, what I will call for simplicity purposes, nearly a decade, and I have made no personal attachments to this place. At first, it was more of that feeling of missing the familiar of my "home state," but then it was more, well, I'm not entirely sure what it was. Colorado is a beautiful state, and the mountains are second to none. But, I'm not really a mountain girl. I don't mountain bike, I don't ski or snowboard, I don't even really hike in the mountains, so while the Rockies are an absolutely breathtaking sight to behold, they hold little attachment for me. When we first moved to Colorado, we lived in the mountains, and I think it seemed more real to me that we were in this state. Now we living in a city that, while it has mountain views, feels as though we live on the plains of Kansas.

For the record, that pic is actually of the plains of Colorado (wouldn't want to confuse anyone, but honestly, the Kansas plains don't look much different).

When we started out on our trip, I thought I would be confirming my beliefs that the midwest was not a place that people should live, but rather just pick up their corn, and I found out something completely different. People are people, and while there are definitely a lot of farms throughout Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin, there are also cities spattered throughout these areas.

I found downtown Des Moines to be perfectly charming and a place I could certainly see myself living.

Just an adorable place to be, and they have this beautiful outdoor sculpture park, full of pieces of art.

It was so hard not to fall in love with such a charming city.

By far, my favorite state was Wisconsin.

From the oddly eccentric and beachy-feeling of the Wisconsin Dells,

to the city of Milwaukee's vast Lake Michigan and beautiful city,

it was difficult not to love the state. But, when we hit Madison, something seemed just perfect.

First of all, everywhere we went there were walkers and bicyclists.

That in itself was pretty exciting and comfortable. And, I couldn't help but notice the city of Madison's bicycle lane signs. I know we have them throughout the US, but theirs were particularly cute to me.

But, beyond the bicycling, walking, and the most adorable bicycle lane signs ever, it just felt comfortable. Things were green and lush, there were lakes everywhere, and it just felt like a place that I'd be comfortable relaxing and enjoying life. Isn't that what we want in a place that we call home? Even Sam looks adorable in Madison (as he does anywhere, but he just looks like he belongs).

I guess it makes me think twice about my lifelong thoughts that living in the midwest would completely suck. While I realize there's nothing I can do about it for now, it seems to keep calling to me, and I have to stop and wonder what life could be like in another part of the country. I realize that the winters would be much different than they are here in Colorado more than likely, as we are fortunate enough to have a lot of snow, that also melts extremely quickly. But I also grow tired of this "high desert" and the less than lush landscape that surrounds us.

I suppose there's always a chance that this California girl could very well end up living in the Midwest, and loving it. It's also not very likely because of commitments and chains keeping us in Colorado, but it's an interesting thought to picture myself being able to be a part of such a lovely community. I guess in all reality, I just like change, and in a few years, I may no longer like it there and want to move on to another location... or, perhaps I just need to be happy living wherever I am and just live in the moment. For me, that's much easier said than done though, as I strive every day to just enjoy what is in front of me, rather than wishing for the future.

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