Tuesday, January 14, 2014

New Backyard Again

I moved to Sheboygan, Wisconsin and started an internship in the middle of an arctic deep freeze.

Were I to have made a different life decision, this anecdote could have read something like:

-I stayed in Minnesota and continued to pull my weight in a communal living situation that made me unhappy.
-I moved to Bozeman, Montana and started a job in the middle of the usual deep freeze.
-I moved to Austin, Texas and it was really warm, but I couldn't find a job I liked.
-I used up all my savings and traveled America looking for art I found on a variety of obscure websites and books and subsequently ran out of money and options.

But the anecdote is what it is, and I preemptively enjoy Sheboygan despite my feelings that I shouldn't enjoy it at all. I like the old houses, and the short walk to the lake. I like the main street, and the tasteful storefronts housing a surprising variety of restaurants. I like the name. I like my new house (I have a shelf in my closet that can fit almost my entire shoe collection), and I like the short drive out of town that leads to the Wisconsin countryside. Above all, I love my internship.

And even though I already like a place I barely know, I still hear an imaginary voice asking me why I haven't left Wisconsin yet. Why I'm not taking more of a risk. Why I like Sheboygan. What's to like? It's not New York, it's not Chicago, it's not Portland, it's not Austin. It's not any city that a 20-something is supposed to like.

Nope. It's a small city of 50,000 people located 50 miles north of Milwaukee on Lake Michigan that is known for the JMKAC, the Kohler Company, and bratwurst. It's an hour away from where I grew up, and an hour and a half away from where I went to college.

So, to a stranger's eyes, or to a person or two that I know quite well, it may look like I haven't done anything, or gone very far, or achieved very much. But to my own eyes I live in a nice place. And I'm not straining very hard to see things that make it unique and interesting.

Over the past few months I've learned that being a 20-something is deceptively difficult. It may be easy for Taylor Swift to shriek at the top of her lungs about the ecstasy that is the age of 22, but Taylor Swift never had to choose between having a job she loves and having a social life.

So until further notice, I'm a 20-something living in a town entirely underpopulated by my own demographic. I'm not moving for awhile, and I probably won't have as much fun as Taylor Swift. But I'll learn a heck of a lot more, and at the end of the day, I'll know I did something I care about.





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