On the way home, I walked past the men’s shelter and met Walter, catcalling for money, and Pierre, sitting on a bench behind him on Carroll St, under the shaded trees that lined the Capitol Square.
Walter was from Chicago where he had gotten kicked out of his apartment for having the wrong kind of people over. He snickered at the memory and lit a cigarette. He had family in Madison, that’s why he was there. Pierre was more motivated and as Walter leaned back, Pierre leaned forward; he was from Chicago as well. Pierre was looking for a job. He was working for the day-laborer companies just until something else came up.
Airports are particularly filthy places, no matter who you are. No matter what seat you’re in on the plane, everyone has to sit on the same toilet seats in the airport. Or hover, if you’re smart.
I’m not a germaphobe by any means, at least not yet, but airports get to me in a way that other public transportation doesn’t. I’m always looking to count on the goodness of my fellow travelers; but it’s usually about a fifty-fifty split as to who surprises me, for better or for worse.
One of the ideas that I put out there at the beginning of the year was that I wanted to travel more, and indeed, I have taken more trips in the last year than I probably have in my life.
The recession has changed everything for Gen Y. While we continue to embrace idealism, meaningful change is much harder.
And while young people have the best intentions to be part of the communities we live in, we’re being challenged by a number of conflicting events that contribute to a lack of involvement in local community.
For starters, disillusionment towards faith and religion has forced the institution to turn its reign over to Facebook as chief community builder. And despite the fact that our social circles are shrinking and loneliness is increasing, we choose where we live, in part, by how easy it is for us to maintain our quasi-anonymity.
Update: A version of this post was published here as an opinion editorial, and another version was featured here on Brazen Careerist.
The pull Madison has is inexplicable, but powerful. It is this magic that sleeps in the winter, and then explodes in the spring like confetti on your twenty-first birthday, that makes me love the city. Even the winters become part of the voodoo that creates the vibrant mix of people and food and ideas and lakes.
Madison defines who I am. My career, friendships, and relationships are delivered to me from the city stork, like they were birthed directly from this intoxicating energy.
This post is part of Blog Action Day. I do not have any advertising on this site, so I cannot donate the revenue. Instead, I am donating .25 for every subscriber I have today and splitting the donation between my favorite online environmental charity and my favorite local environmental charity.
1. Ditch the car. I know a guy who drives a couple blocks from his condo to the bars. It’s one of those things that gets under my skin and makes me go crazy. The single best thing you can do to help the environment is to not own a car.
It was a few months ago when I thought I might leave Madison, WI to move to Chicago where my boyfriend lived. Long story short, I went to visit him, we broke up, and I rode home on the bus, trying to decipher all that had happened in such a short weekend.
When I got home, however – poof! Everything was okay.
As if the city had enveloped me in between its two lakes and brought the east and west side together to meet, and there in the middle, I stood, a bright light shining like a fool, excited merely just to be home.