Wisconsin is the first state I lived in that wasn't Missouri. I was four when we moved to Milwaukee but we were in California by the time I started kindergarten. My memories are pretty much snow.
Wisconsin, though, is a wedding. A wedding in which I am standing on the groom's side but don't get to wear a tux, much to my utter dismay. I had to wear the itchy purple...nun's outfit? Periwinkle. Flattered no one.
Wisconsin is the best wedding reception I ever went to. Not the official one, not the tea and cake reception after the Catholic wedding upstairs where I stood on the groom's side looking like I forgot which side I was supposed to be on. That reception was more or less excruciating as all formal receptions are. And I had an ugly dress on.
But I had friends with which to mock other people. So that was something.
Wisconsin is the other wedding reception, the one that followed the tea and cake. The one when I'm out of the ridiculous dress and back into jeans and a t-shirt. The one that happened in a park? Campus? Something. It was 4th of July weekend, I had some denim blankets, and we parked ourselves down. Along with all the cool kids from the wedding. Mother of the bride goes home, cousins and their plus ones go home, and the friends remain.
Wisconsin is getting pretty drunk at the cool kids reception. Lying on the denim looking up at the clouds. Watching Bixby play a game titled Hunkerhausen with friends of friends--most of the cool kids are not college friends of the groom, but rather members of the SCA. Being a member of the SCA means you are no longer in the closet about pretty much any part of your life. If you have created a medieval character and there are people out there who only know you by that name, and you have all the medieval skills and talents and clothes and weapons to match, I mean, there's nothing left to hide.
Wisconsin...there was a brief time between the high school boy and
Bixby, there was a moment when I was living that Edna St. Vincent Millay
poem: I will be the gladdest thing under the sun, I will touch all the
flowers and not pick one....and when the lights begin to show up from
the town, I will mark which must be mine and then start down. I was a
bit fluid. Whoever asked me out first from a list of about 3 boys, I was
going to date him. In this specific rendition of reality, that boy was
Bixby. But the groom was on that list. Most likely, I would have dated
him quickly and moved on. Because I was not going to create a medieval character to live in for half my life. But for a moment, finding out he was getting
married was like being told no.
Wisconsin is laughing. Pretty sure I dragged my sister Bevin on this trip. And my old college friend Dez and one of my former roommates. And other SCA friends and Bixby and it was just as perfect as it could be.
Wisconsin is eating spam that someone sticks out to me and says, "want spam?" Wisconsin is wishing there was more beer. Wisconsin is finding hard cider. Wisconsin is kicking back and talking and talking and talking about all the things.
Wisconsin is going with the groom to his truck to get something he wants me to take back to St. Louis. And that something is quite a kiss.
Wisconsin is getting home to our little apartment on South Compton and not regretting anything about any of the everything.
Have I been to Wisconsin? Yes.