I was born a Midwesterner, however this never really resonated with me. Although I lived in Madison Wisconsin, my parents were former New Yorkers and I never felt that I really fit in with the farming heritage and the cheesehead mentality. I moved away after college graduation, with my boyfriend (and future husband) to his hometown, Minneapolis MN, which really was more of the same on a grander scale. A sea of reserved blonds who had never seen a Menorah before. After several years we moved west.
I have not returned to Madison or Minneapolis in three years. Most times I do not miss it. Those bitter cold winters that would freeze the inside of my nose and leave my fingers numb. The summers so hot and thick with humidity it seemed pointless to shower. I have few friends still living in Madison, and although my mother and stepfather are still residents they visit us with great frequency, so there is little need for us to return to the dairy state.
But every now and then I get a little twinge of homesickness.
In the dry, brown summers of Denver I sometimes got nostalgic for the thunderstorms of my youth. Those dark ominous clouds, they sky swollen with moister. A startling clap of thunder would burst those clouds like a pin popping a balloon, and a welcome down pouring of rain would drench the streets leaving behind puddles and the relief of temporary cool. The landscape a lush green and the gardens full of color, I missed this in the heart of the desert Colorado summer.
And I know I need to go back. My children should see where I grew up. I should show them the steps of Science Hall where their father and I made our arrangements for our very first date. I should take them to feed the ducks at lake Mendota and eat ice cream on the union terrace. We could go to the Vilas Zoo, the site of our annual grade school field trips, though unimpressive in comparison to the zoos they have already experienced. They should see the house where I grew up.
And yet I know that so much of this city has changed. The iconic Paisans where I went regularly with my parents and the dorms where David and I lived have since been demolished. The restaurants and bars along State Street have turned over multiple times since I last frequented them. Truth be told I would be a tourist in my own hometown. And I don't think it would feel like home anymore.
Who knows where home is, in an age where people move around so easily. We have lived in Madison, Minneapolis, Denver and now Berkeley. At this moment Denver still seems the most familiar and we are in fact heading back for a brief, but much needed visit next week.
That said, Madison will always be a part of me. The place where I was born. My official "hometown", cheesehead or not. I need to go back, if only to remind myself where I came from.