I actually wasn’t planning on writing a blog post tonight, but today’s Daily Post prompt made me change my mind. The prompt asks what was the biggest chance you took in your life, and how did it turn out?
Well, I’ll keep my answer to that somewhat brief and succinct, but it’s a real easy one for me: The biggest chance in my life was the job search that led me here to Madison, Wisconsin. As I mentioned previously, my relocation to MadTown was the eventual result of my layoff from my former employer in Green Bay. (Yes, that Green Bay.) I had lived in Green Bay for 12 years up to that point, and had lived in one spot or another in Northeastern Wisconsin since the age of 5. Though I had grown accustomed to living in Titletown by then, the city held no special sway for me, nor did I ever find living there exciting.
Needless to say, I actively entertained and explored job opportunities outside the immediate Green Bay area. Yes, I did aim for positions within Green Bay, but I also sent out feelers on jobs from as near as Appleton (about 30 miles southwest of Green Bay), to Milwaukee, Madison, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and, in what was clearly an out-on-a-limb move, International Falls, Minnesota. (Yes, it gets bitterly cold up there, I know, but it had a job I felt qualified for.) Eventually, the search would lead me to Madison and the company I currently work for; I moved down here on Labor Day weekend of 2002.
Through my handful of trips down to Madison during that summer-long job search, I did gain at least a basic sketch of what the city was like and where the important spots where (including, obviously, where I would work). But when I moved down here for good, I still didn’t know the city like the back of my hand; things didn’t instantly feel like home, of course, and I had a nervous feeling about my new job. The first neighborhood I lived in wasn’t the greatest either; Madison’s south side has a reputation as a rough-and-tumble, less-than-hospitable neighborhood, and the apartment complex where I first set up my belongings wasn’t up to par. So I generally laid low and learned more about MadTown my first year or so here. Despite that nervousness about a new city and my ill-at-ease feeling about my initial surroundings, things felt… well, “different” would be too obvious of a word, so I’ll say they felt… exciting. Positive. Improving (especially compared to not having a job for 3+ months). Thrilling. Welcoming.
As I grew more confident in my position at work, I explored the Madison area a little further. I went to hockey games, did some more shopping, saw more sights, hiked more trails, went on more outings, met more people (or at least said “hello”). I would change apartments a couple of times as well, eventually moving to the spot I now call my home 8 years ago. (Gosh, has it been that long?)
Next week will mark 13 years since I left behind a comfortable yet sedate and unexciting life in Green Bay and moved, nervous yet optimistic, to a new opportunity in a new city. And though I still may not know every nook and cranny of this area, I’m proud to call Madison my home. So, with the question being “did taking my biggest chance work out,” I would have to say… for the most part, absolutely! Sure, I live further away from my family (my mom always worries about me being down here); and the cost of living here can be pretty high (reason enough for Mom to worry about me), but moving to Madison was well worth it. I now feel more comfortable about the city I live in, and the person I’ve become as a result, more than I ever would have been had I still been stuck in Green Bay.
One of these days, I hope to type up a separate blog post highlighting some of my favorite haunts here in Madison (complete with pictures). But I’m glad I’ve at least gone on record with this post (as if I hadn’t spoken glowingly about this town on this blog already) as saying that Madison is a great town (state politics and other troubles notwithstanding) and a wonderful city to live in. If fate ever leads me away from Madison, I’d be hard pressed to find another town as wonderful and open as this city has been to me. Moving down here was a big chance, for sure, but it’s one I’ll never regret taking, not in the least.