From Madison to Boston, then back again

It’s been a month since I moved back home to Madison, Wisconsin from Boston, Massachusetts, and my emotions have been all over the place. On one hand, I am glad to be home: there’s more nature, the sounds of chickadees chirping every morning whenever I have my coffee on my deck, four lakes, and a lively city center. My family––both biological and nonbiological––are all here, and I can safely say that this is my home and being home has its perks. 

However, much to my shock because I did not expect to get that attached, Boston became my home too. I don’t really know why I’m that surprised: I spent two years there, working my ass off to finish my master’s program (check!), network with writing and publishing professionals, thrive in my career, grow academically, and live life in a city that I always thought would be more my speed. In part, Boston was the speed I needed: like much of the East Coast, it moves quickly and takes no BS. There is always an activity to do and boredom doesn’t exist in Boston. You’d have to never leave your apartment and stare at your ceiling for days on end (which, admittedly, I have found myself guilty of doing on several occasions as an introvert with anxiety) in order to feel a semblance of boredom. I miss the Harbor Walk, the smell of salt and cigarettes, the plethora of bookstores, extraordinary coffee shops, fresh seafood, and all the different neighborhoods, each offering a different perspective on the city. They felt like their own cities themselves, despite being a part of the Greater Boston area. 

But most of all, I miss my friends. I told myself when I moved to Boston, and for at least a year following that move, that nothing or no one could ever come close to my friends and family back in Madison. I also told myself not to get attached to Boston and, furthermore, that there was no way I would ever get attached because it’s in my nature to fly around the world like a restless bird. Sure, Madison’s had/has always been my home base, but I get stir crazy being there––and anywhere else––for too long. It’s just not good for me to be stagnant. That’s why I never in a million years thought that I would miss Boston upon completing my master’s program. 

 I could not have been more wrong. So many of the friends that I met back in Boston became like family. For two years, we were each other’s cheerleaders, plus ones, and therapists. We fist pumped over victories with internships and jobs. We held each other while stress crying over our future in the WLP Lounge. “Proposals” happened. A disturbing hulk mug vanished from the Lounge, thank god. Romantic relationships developed while others crumpled. We pulled all-nighters editing manuscripts and writing articles, while consuming copious amounts of caffeine. We struggled through a class from hell with a Satanic professor who I’m pretty sure we’ll have a semblance of PTSD from for the rest of our lives. We graduated together or cheered on the year ahead of us as they waltzed, or in some cases waddled, up the stage to be hooded.

I’m thankful for my upcoming trip to Boston in October. Until then, technology is a miracle worker. Whether or not I end up moving back to Boston at some point in my life is uncertain. Despite the two years being a valuable experience and all the growth I experienced while living out East, Boston took a lot out of me emotionally. I’m not sure if that was largely due to the stressful nature of my grad program and the instability and insanity of publishing careers, but I do know that my anxiety escalated while living there. On the flip side, I also accomplished a lot while out East and made a plethora of friends. I really enjoyed the quicker pace of the city and all the events I went to. Want to go to a dumpling festival? You got it. Margarita crawl? You bet. Fireworks on the harbor? Check. My point is that Boston may have been over-stimulating and overwhelming, but there was never a dull moment.

Living there also taught me the value of boundaries. Before moving to Boston, I definitely had social events and obligations to attend to, but these both exploded upon moving East. That being said, I gradually learned how to set better boundaries, thus able to enjoy time at events with friends and acquaintances without feeling overwhelmed or resentful of my “me” time being stomped on. 

It’s uncertain what’s next for me location-wise, but I am flexible. Regardless of where I end up in the next few months, I am grateful for the two years I spent in Boston. I miss the salt, sea, and snark every day, but luckily I took that energy back with me.


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