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Tears of Truth

May 29, 2010

I didn’t live in Madison for long. 

I lived 20 miles outside of Madison, in a quaint little town named Lodi, from seventh grade through high school, and so when I attended college in the capital city of Wisconsin, I felt like I already knew where I was.  I didn’t consider myself a true Madisonian, but it was clear when I arrived on campus, that I knew my way around a bit more than people who lived an hour away.  It was clear that I had already established a few favorite places to visit on the ever popular State Street, and University, and near each of the shopping malls in town. All thanks to sporting events, concerts, dates, and special events through out my high school years.  I truly only resided in Madison for two years before  I transferred to a different school, a different region – moving across the country vertically, not horizontally. 

It didn’t matter that I had only spent four semesters receiving mail in Madison.
It only mattered that it took about four days- or possibly even minutes, to know that Madison was home. 

If you are the kind of person that believes in fairytales and dreams come true, you may believe in love at first sight.
You may be the kind of person that understands.  You may be the one who reads this and knows what I mean when I say that my love for Madison was deeper than love at first sight. You may understand that I have a priceless romance with this city.

You may understand if you’ve spoken to me about Madison during the last seven years of my life.

You may understand if the entire reason for us wanting to spend more time with one another, and know more about each other, was built on the fact that one of us was wearing a Madison t-shirt, a place that you had visited many times in your lifetime, during our first encounter in a cafeteria in the middle of Louisiana.

You may understand if you decided at one point your life that you wanted to date me, or marry me, or be my best friend, and I told you couldn’t possibly hold such a role until you visited my first true love.

You may understand if you’ve ever watched a Badger sporting event with me on television; watching me hop around in front of the TV during nail bitters, or talk about Ron Dayne or Barry Alvarez even though they are no longer on the field on Saturdays.  You may understand if the point that I started to question if I had a crush on you came when you told me you always wanted to watch a football game at Camp Randall.  

You may understand if, although we met in Texas, you’ve accompanied me to sports bars and restaurants; BW3s, Wings to Go, and the like.  I’ve dressed you in an old ratty red jersey, or a t-shirt with sporting Bucky.  You know the words –AND THE MOTIONS- to “If You Want to Be A Badger,” even though you’ve never gone north of the Mason Dixon line.  And yet you know what “Miflin” is, and you want to spend a Saturday morning, or a concert, on the Square.

You may understand if you’ve been to my apartments in Texas and asked about thebars of Madison” poster on my wall, my farmers market photos in frames, my UW sweatpants.  If you’ve visited my current apartment in New York, you’ve seen my Madison motif- of maps, and photos, and red and white love.

You may understand if you’ve ever heard my phone ring. Or played Wisconsinopoly on my living room floor, as I tell you about what each square on the board means. Or tried Leinenkugel for the first time in a Beaumont house, before they were sold nationwide. Or find yourself having cravings for Babcock, or Relish, or Noodles, or Chocolate Shoppe.  Even though you’ve never been.  Even though you may have had Noodles in a different location.  Even though you don’t get why.

You may understand if you’ve lived here, too.  Or visited. Even for a weekend. Or day. Or a few hours on a road trip.
You may understand if you know me at all, let alone really know me.


Or, you may not understand.
You may just not get it.
And that is okay, too.

If you don’t understand, then the fact that I was giddy to the point of giddiness for all of this past week probably doesn’t make sense to you.  Nor does the fact that I try to spend at least a few hours alone with the city during each of the weekends I’ve spent here since my 2003 cross-country departure.  You probably don’t get my desire to just sit still in certain areas of the city, calm and alone, and breathe it all in. You probably don’t understand my knowing I will always come back here at some point.  Or why every time I meet a five year old girl named Madison, or a puppy named Maddie, my heart skips a beat.

Something tells me if you don’t understand these things, that you won’t understand the simple, short story I am about to share.  You just won’t.  And that’s okay, too.

The 50 minute flight from Detroit to Madison was the perfect amount of time.  I read two chapters in my book. I listened to a short podcast. I closed my eyes for several minutes in a row.  And I looked out the window as it finally hit me.

I had been giggly for days, excited for weeks, planning for literally months.  I knew it was coming, but I just didn’t get it. I didn’t get it at all, until I looked out the window, upon our decent, and saw all of Madison, coming closer and closer to me – lit up in the dark, late night sky.  I saw the isthmus.  I saw the cars driving on streets – many of them going only one way, or the other.  I saw lights from what I assumed was Breese Stevens, no further than a couple blocks from the end all be all for me.  The end all, the be all, and the start all, too. I saw it, from my airplane window – the capital building, lit as only what my imagined impression of heaven could deliver.  With Lady Forward pointing, and the knowledge that people were laughing, and enjoying, and yeah-sure-you-betcha-ing, and talking to people they’ve never met before, though feel like they’ve known forever- all all four sides, and down streets from all four corners.  I could not take my eyes away from the window long enough to dig out my camera in my carry on to snap a photo, but the memory of this view needs no visual recording in my mind. 

My hand gently touched the window, the way a mother touches a daughters face, or a husband holds his wife’s hand for the first time since I do.  With a gentleness, and tenderness, and love unlike any other.  With tears, slowly rolling down my cheeks, one by one as I continued to scan the landscape we were only moments from touching down to, I found myself feeling something I hadn’t felt in many, many years.  An equation of freedom, and renewal, and revelation.  Add flirtation, and anticipation, and relief.  Multiply by feeling known, and exposed, but in the best way possible.

I was alive. 

It was the beginning of romance all over again, and because of the growth that has taken place in my heart in the past seven years, I didn’t wipe the tears away.  I didn’t close my eyes and reach for strength that allowed me to cover up what is often misread as weakness, but is so clearly truth. So clearly romance. So clearly love. So clearly me. So clearly home. Despite only two years of residency, and seven years of separation.  Home, Sweet, Home. 

Sweet. Sweet. Home.


13 Comments leave one →
  1. May 29, 2010 8:51 pm

    I never lived in NYC but I have a same love affair with that city after being in seminary just outside and visiting as often as I can. Whenever I get back I fall in love all over again 🙂

    Glad you are having a great time.

  2. Kayla J permalink
    May 29, 2010 10:42 pm

    I hope one day I have a romance with a town or city the way you have with Madison. I certainly do NOT feel that way about Beaumont/Lumberton… and though I love Austin, it’s not precisely my taste.

    Also, this whole thing was positively PRECIOUS. I adore you.

  3. May 29, 2010 10:42 pm

    I understand, friend! 🙂 I’m glad you are having a the best time possible. Visit that hat store on state street for me!

  4. Grant permalink
    May 30, 2010 12:56 am

    Welcome home, Heather! Hope you enjoy your stay.

  5. May 31, 2010 8:46 pm

    Love your recaps so far. Cant wait to read more!


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