W is for..........Wisconsin.
Arizona is a fairly transient place, not a lot of born-and-raiseds. Talk with someone long enough and the question of where you're originally from comes up.
That's always been a tough one to answer for me. My family moved around a lot, but I guess when it comes down to it, I consider myself from Wisconsin.
When I tell people I'm from Wisconsin, a cheesehead reference soon follows. Which is cool. I am a cheesehead.
But there's more to the story. I lived in four Wisconsin cities, and each one left its mark, making me the person I am.
Port Washington is a small fishing town on Lake Michigan. My childhood there was idyllic, very Tom Sawyer. I remember summer days waking up before the sun, heading down to the creek (very definitely pronounced crick) for full days of fishing.
We moved to Appleton when I was in 4th grade. I wrote about Appleton for the Challenge last year. Appleton is where the hormones kicked in and girls started to matter. Appleton is where I met friends that have stayed with me over miles and years.
Green Bay was only 30 miles north from Appleton, but when we moved there my sophomore year, it felt like another planet. Green Bay is where I learned to fit in again, miraculously finding people who got me, and still do. I graduated from high school in Green Bay, and I suppose one never forgets that.
Madison is a college town, and a great one at that. Madison is where I figured out who I really was, wanted to be, the place where I started to become a man.
Port Washington, Appleton, Green Bay, Madison. All these places are Wisconsin. And when I tell people I'm from Wisconsin, this is what I mean. I haven't lived in Wisconsin for a long time. Nearly twenty years now. But these places remain, they are in my blood.