Recently I have taken to labeling my summers. For instance "the summer I fell in love with Christopher" - 2008, "the summer we moved to Franklin" - 2010, "the summer we drove ALL over Wisconsin" - 2011.
The summer of 2012 is "The Summer I Fell in Love with Milwaukee." (My husband still says that Milwaukee the armpit of Wisconsin but I believe he is softening.)
We had decided early in the summer to try to stay put in Milwaukee, planning to take short trips about once a month to see family. We knew that Christopher needed uninterrupted weeks of studying and we just wanted to stay home a little bit more.
We moved a little over a month ago into a cute little house and perhaps that helped my infatuation become love. We now have a Milwaukee address which simply makes me happy. I love that we live close enough to Lake Michigan to be able to visit it several times a week. I love that we live within walking distances to the library, several grocery stores, many restaurants and Target. I love that while Milwaukee is one of the most segregated cities in America, the grocery store down the street has as many Spanish signs as English signs. (We moved from a blue area to a yellow area according to that map.) I love that there are many things going on in the summer, especially the free things.
But most of all, I love the people - and by that, I mean "our" people. I love our friends and i think they are pretty wonderful. It makes me feel at home knowing that there are people in our corner. People who like to play games, people who like to cook as much as my husband does, people who stop over just because they can.
My brother and sister-in-law's family are in the middle of moving and a pretty big life transition. It reminds me of when we moved to Milwaukee. Last week I hosted a get-together with the new spouses of PhD students. Only one women was brave enough to say "I really need friends." I remember that feeling and I'm sure it was echoed from around the room. Moving is hard. Change is difficult. It's an up-hill climb; the breeze may be nice and you may enjoy the scenery along the way but it is still work. I think that we have reached the top of that hill. We can stand there and look back and know that the climb made us stronger.
I am aware that while we may be at the top of the hill, others are not, which allows us to offer encouragement and friendship.
And Milwaukee? my love affair will continue - with pumpkins, apples, bike rides by the lake and cool evenings on the front porch.