I distinctly remember the day I moved to Madison.
I had been looking forward to that day for four years - ever since my freshman year of high school when I decided I had to go to the University of Wisconsin. It had been my dream for so long, and finally I got to move to the big city from my tiny hometown. I remember sitting in my parents Surbuban and as we were driving up to my dorm, my dad played On, Wisconsin over the stereo and as dorky as that was, it was like...yes, this is it. It was so exciting - my dorm room right down town, so many things to see and do, and all on my own. I was just so excited to meet new people, live in Madison, and experience something completely new to me. As I stood at the front door of my dorm building waving good-bye to my parents, all I felt was excitement.
Over the next five years of school, I met so many great people. People who were from similar backgrounds, or from somewhere I had only read about. 500 people over five years who stomped around dirt fields with me for two hours every day for the love of our school. People who taught me about love, about organic chemistry, about friendship, about human sexuality (the class!), about how to live a better life. I got to travel all over the country, march my final show at the Rose Bowl, and do it with my closet friends. The people I kept closest were strong, smart, and ready for everything which is so evident by what they are doing now - studying to be doctors, living abroad, moving to bigger cities to follow their dreams, engineering things. My friends are going to change the world, and Madison gave me the chance to meet them.
If you haven't been to Madison, you must visit. It's a city of lakes, beer, cheese, trees, sportsmanship, and architecture. If you come, come in the fall - middle of September when the leaves are just barely changing, warmth is still coming off the lakes, and everyone is wearing cardinal red. Go eat cheese curds at The Old Fashioned, enjoy a pitcher at the Terrace, and ride a b-cycle down the lakeshore path. Watch my successors play my favorite song while 80,000 people wave along in my favorite place on campus. Walk down state street (more than likely having to side step someone protesting something) and watch all the walks of life coming together enjoying the nice weather.
The last few days have been really difficult for me. Every time I think about how I won't be here to experience those things, I become really sad. I love Madison. I found love, my friends, and myself here, and to leave it terrifies me. While I feel I've traveled quite a bit in my life, I've lived within a 60 mile radius for the last 18 years of my life. I like that I can drive an hour and be home. I like that I know every street here and the shortest way to cut across town. I like that I know where the closest Culvers is, what time to avoid the beltline, and where the best place is to watch the sunset. As I was driving home from my parents' house last night after saying goodbye, I felt especially emotional (listening to this song as I drove away was probably a terrible idea). I called my friend Ben, and after ugly crying over the phone, he told me exactly what I needed to hear - that Madison will still be here when I'm ready to come back, that I've worked towards going to medical school for so long that all I should be feeling is that same excitement I felt seven years ago, and that this is a new adventure and it's going to be just as great as the one in Madison was.
As I pack up my car to move ten hours away from my boyfriend, my family, and my friends, I'm sad to leave, but so thankful that I got to experience it in the first place.
I love you Madison. I'll be back :)
Dress: Madewell [exact]
Belt: The Limited
Shoes: Old Navy
linking up with Mix and Match Fashion.