Nine years ago, a recruiter convinced me to expand my job search to include Milwaukee. “It’s super close to Chicago,” she reasoned, “and there are some great opportunities in Wisconsin.”
I hesitated. Milwaukee? Wisconsin? I had never been to Milwaukee, and I knew nothing about it, but I was intrigued (and desperate to land a job).
Fast forward a few weeks later and I was flying into Milwaukee to interview. It was mid-afternoon when the plane touched down at Mitchell International Airport. I lifted the blind and looked as we taxied to the terminal.
Suddenly I felt at peace. “I am home,” I thought.
I hadn’t even left the plane, but I knew – I FELT – this is where I belonged.
About a month after that, I was deciding between two offers from Milwaukee companies. Milwaukee would be our new home.
I remember the first time I brought my kids here to see the city that would become their hometown. It was Thanksgiving weekend, and we walked around Veteran’s Park on a cold, grey afternoon. The kids marveled at the size of Lake Michigan. They delighted in seeing the “wings” of the Art Museum. We spent the weekend exploring Betty Brinn and Discovery World. We ate cheese curds (and I drank some local beers). Milwaukee felt like a great place to call home.
Two months later, still new to the city, my husband died suddenly in his childhood bedroom in Indiana. It was then that my kids and I learned first-hand that Milwaukee was a city of extraordinarily nice and loving people. People I didn’t know banded together to surround my kids and I with love – bringing us meals, taking the kids to the movies, and making sure we felt the love of the community. I remember thinking, “Why are these people so nice? What do they want?” But we allowed ourselves to be comforted in the arms of our new friends. Milwaukee became our rock.
I often think about that feeling I had when I landed in the city for the first time. The feeling of peace. Of belonging. Of home. Before coming moving, I lived in three other Midwestern states, but none felt like “home.”
In our nine years here, my kids and I have forged incredible friendships. We doubled the size of our family when I remarried three years ago. I found my mom-village. We’ve heard amazing music and enjoyed incredible festivals – there’s nothing like Milwaukee’s festival season. Milwaukee is home. And I know this was where we were meant to be and grow as a family.
Milwaukee is a special kind of place with special people. Milwaukee is a family. Milwaukee is home. Milwaukee, I love you.
What’s your “love letter” story to MKE?