“I feel like a dog that’s been chasing after a car and finally caught it. Now what?!”Tara Petruska
Man, I get that sentiment. I’ve been so hyper-focused on finding a job — the kindling to get this fire started — that after the initial wave of jubilation faded, reality set in.
Namely, we don’t have a place to live! Gulp.
So, Saturday we set about trying to find a suitably decent apartment. Wherever we end up, it’s going to be a huge step down from this lovely house we own. But, we keep telling ourselves, it’s temporary. Eyes on the prize. One year from now, we should be settled into an even better home, with lots of land for Tara’s garden beds. Hashtag sacrifice.
We applied for two apartments. Our options are somewhat limited based on our holy-shit-this-is-happening-fast! timeline, but it’s one of those things where we couldn’t make plans before we had a move date, and we couldn’t have a move date until I got a job. Hopefully, we’ll hear back on those in a day or two.
Otherwise, we may be pitching a tent in the Kwik Trip parking lot.
Lots of emotions swirling through our heads. Everything feels bittersweet. There are the occasional bouts of what-the-hell-are-we-doing?! panic. Yesterday afternoon, I got so caught up in my own head, I had to leave the house and just start moving. I ended up hiking the Skyline Wilderness trail. In 93º heat. Just to do something other than sit around thinking.
It also helped pulling up Madison’s current weather. The difference was striking.
Climate is a factor, without a doubt. But obviously, not the only one. Once we really started digging into Madison, we knew we were on the right track. For starters, Livability.com ranked it #1 on their list of Best Places to Live in America in 2021. And then again in 2022. They talk about the high employment rate, diverse economy, natural beauty, and plethora of free cultural attractions.
All great things, but what really sold us was the fact that Madison’s official bird is the plastic pink flamingo. The whole thing started out as a college prank in 1979, but became such a popular tradition, the Madison Common Council made it official in 2015.
If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you’re well aware of my obsession with flamingos. Not only do we have several in our yard year-round; we put special ones out over the holidays. I even wear flamingos on occasion.
So, I mean, c’mon. That’s gotta be a sign! (Maybe a sign of insanity, but hey — a sign’s a sign!).
I’m also obsessed with fireflies. Growing up, my brother and I used to catch lightning bugs and put them in a jar whenever we visited family in Trenton, New Jersey. And when we lived in Ohio, we got to enjoy ’em all the time. But I haven’t lived anyplace where fireflies exist in decades. I’ve seen them on the eastern side of the state, but their habitat range pretty much ends at the Missouri River.
One of my fondest childhood memories involves fireflies. I will forever associate them with a warm, sleepless summer night in Ohio, Bob Seger playing on my transistor radio, my whole life spread out before me. Even at the age of 11, I understood that night that I was experiencing a transformative moment in my life. Moments of clarity like that are rare.
Knowing that Wisconsin has fireflies, the Monday I was there, I headed out to a recreational area just a few minutes from my hotel. The sun was just setting and it was spectacular. I actually texted Tara these photos and said, Are you fucking kidding me with this!? (Sorry, mom.)
As the shadows deepened, the fireflies emerged. Hundreds, if not thousands, of them. I walked for two miles, through stands of trees and past open fields, watching in awe as they blinked and flashed. I swear, I’m still a kid at heart.
Unfortunately, the mosquitoes also emerged. I was prepared for this, and sprayed myself with repellant the moment I exited the vehicle, but still ended up with half a dozen bites. They got me in places I hadn’t sprayed: my ring finger, the top of my foot underneath a sandal strap, even on my back, apparently unfazed by my t-shirt. But you know what? It was totally worth the price of that magical evening stroll.
Are you a fan of flamingos, either real or plastic? How about fireflies? How big a role does climate play in your decision to live where you do?