Going ‘Home’ Means Something Different When You Move Away
I haven't lived in my hometown in a full decade, and "home" means something different now.
There are two kinds of people: those who move away, and those who stay. Some people want the comforts of what they know, and some want to explore different places. Neither one is better than the other.
I never, EVER thought I'd move away from Milwaukee.
I thought I'd be, what we called, a "lifer." Born, raised, work, go to school, raise my own family in Milwaukee. Boom. Easy. And then, life happened. And I learned that you have to stop planning and just start living.
Radio has taken us all over the country:
-from Milwaukee to Seattle, Washington
-from Seattle to Appleton, Wisconsin
-from Appleton to the west side of the state: La Crosse, Wisconsin
-from La Crosse to the middle of the state: Stevens Point, Wisconsin
-from Stevens Point, we moved three states away to Flint, Michigan
I'm so happy that I've gotten the opportunity to move around. I've been able to call six cities and three states my "home."
My friends and family often ask when I'm coming "home" for a visit, or if I want to move "home" to Milwaukee someday. And the answer is complicated, because "home" means something different to me now. The last time I went to Milwaukee for Christmas, it was stressful, for many reasons. And I couldn't wait to get HOME to Michigan.
Home can mean a multitude of different things. It can mean where you're from, where your house is, or where you feel the most comfortable. Out of all the places we've lived, I've felt most comfortable in Flint and Seattle. It's comfort, it's connection.
People constantly think that I'm itching to come back to Milwaukee, back to my roots. The truth is, my roots stretch all over this beautiful country now. Milwaukee will always be my homeTOWN, but it's not my home anymore.
I've left my mark on every city I've lived in, and every city has left its mark on me. When I went back home for my 15-year high school reunion, it felt...weird. So many people I went to school with have raised their families in the same city; they still have a connection to each other that I don't anymore.
My accent has changed several times. I lost my Wisconsin accent quickly when we moved to Washington and picked up a Pacific Northwestern dialect (yes, that's really a "thing"). When I moved to Stevens Point, my 'sconnie accent came back with a vengeance. Now that we're in Michigan, it's gone. And I can hear it when I go back to visit.
And, the scariest part for me: I call soda "pop" now. I used to make fun of people who said that. Now, I do it, too.
My hometown has changed - buildings have been torn down and replaced with new ones, there's new restaurants...EVEN THE SKYLINE HAS CHANGED. There's a new skyscraper in downtown Milwaukee that was never there before. It feels strange...it's not the home I once knew. Things change when you're gone, and it starts to feel like a different place.
Anyways, enough rambling. "Home" means something different to everybody. I'll quote my favorite artist, Billy Joel, from his song You're My Home.
Home can be the Pennsylvania Turnpike
Indiana's early morning dew
High up in the hills of California
Home is just another word for you
Now, if you're interested, here are some pics from each placed we've lived. Click through, or don't. I won't be offended. SPOILER: there's a picture of Johnny Depp in there.