Over the past week, Tim and I traveled with the girls to Milwaukee to celebrate his cousin's wedding and visit some dear friends. A raging storm kept us awake the night before we left so as we sat in bed we talked about really assessing our current feelings of the city during our visit. After 6 days, I can honestly confirm that my love for Wisconsin runs deep. It remains the same as the day I boarded that early flight a year ago with my three girls in tow. It is the same for Tim.
Tim and I never expected to love Milwaukee. It was just a map dot on our journey with CAT, but it turned out to be so much more to us. We both recall a specific moment when we were lying in bed one warm summer night listening to the wind whistle through our newly placed windows. I was pregnant with Elle and a bit emotional (let's be honest...when haven't I been emotional in the past 7 years?), and I grabbed Tim's hand and said, "I know we don't really have friends yet, and that bothers me, but I love this place. It feels like home." He felt exactly the same. We fell in love with the traditional family values that are deeply rooted in the city along with the modern changes that only improve what once was there. The museums offered so many experiences to my girls. The architecture downtown stood out to us and reminded us of Chicago. And it didn't hurt that by the time we left, we had made really good friends. Friends we knew would stand the test of time.
And they have. We were able to see most of our close friends during our 6-day visit. They showered us with so much love and kindness. Many of the women I grew to love and respect surprised me with a baby shower the day before I left. It made my heart whole again, if only for a minute. Cami and I stayed up way too late every night laughing and passing life advice back and forth to each other. She is a true friend, and I am the luckiest to know her. I also had the opportunity to meet with a few of the girls who attended our monthly book club the night before I left. We ended up staying up way too late, but it was worth it. So worth it. The whole trip was.
I cannot tell you how hard moving has been on my heart. It has strained several relationships, but it has also given me the chance to grow new ones. In every place we've lived, I have made at least one strong friendship; I just happened to make lots of them in Milwaukee. As I reflect on the last three years, I feel extremely blessed to know the people I know. They change the way I look at and think about certain things. They show me how to love deeply and openly. And they teach me to be kinder to myself as I navigate this life I have been given. Essentially, I am who I am because of the people I have met. They have shaped and will continue to shape the person I grow to be. So as I reflect, I try to focus on the positive instead of the negative, and I think that is a really big positive. So big that I just might visit Milwaukee every year until we move back because we will move back. We are sure of it.