“Hey kid, wanna get Mexican food tonight?”
At this, I put on my ugly, winter jacket and stood by the front door because a simple “yes” would not have done the trick. There were two major reasons I really wanted to go. First, my grandma had some lady friends over the house earlier for a game of Maj (some kind of Chinese game primarily played by older, Jewish women) and I stayed put in my room for several hours to avoid having to play. And second, I AM ALWAYS HUNGRY HERE because all my grandparents have to eat is dried fruit and various unappetizing gluten- free products.
On the car ride over, I started to think about the first time I went to this Mexican place; three and a half months ago when I first arrived in Milwaukee. It was warm outside and my grandparents were wearing their beloved WOOF hats. I remember how I made eye contact with the cute bartender and it was love at first sight…until my grandma started stroking my hair and gushing about how excited she was that I was in Wisconsin.
The second time was in October. The breeze was brisk and the trees were soulful shades; I had only been in Wisconsin for a month. This was the time when we saw the hipster bartender with the frightening resemblance to Hitler ( I really do hope someone recommended a new barber to him).
And our third appearance was last night. It was seven degrees outside and I’ve been in Wisconsin for a little over three months now. I could feel my body temperature somewhat regulate as we stepped inside and we were led to a table in the back.
“Is that Jenna?” my grandma says as she twists around in her seat. Jenna, the waitress, smiles.
“Our favorite waitress! How have you been?” my grandpa asks. Jenna and my grandparents chat for a little. It’s insane how my grandparents seem to know ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE no matter where we go. I’m not kidding. The airport, clothing stores, random dude on a bench, Block freaking Buster, everyone.
When we finished up our meal, my grandma suggested we go walk in the mall because we’ve been “sitting on our keisters” all day and could use some exercise. Needless to say, walking laps in a mall is anything but exciting but that’s what we did.
With each lap, I started to think about my past three months in Wisconsin. It’s funny how I used to be an unrecognizable face at the local coffeehouse here but now they practically know my order, how I have a stack of bus tickets piled underneath my metro-card, and how I read the Sheppard Express, a local Milwaukee newspaper. It’s funny how my face lights up when people mention New York but when I was living there, I couldn’t stand it.
In a little over a week, I‘ll be back in New York for a while. I’m beyond excited to be going home. But I’m also extremely nervous. I’m nervous that I will get swept away in nostalgia and gluten that I’ll forget why I came to Wisconsin in the first place.
But I’ve discovered this year that life is journey. That no matter how hard you try to make it a linear line, something always skews your path. However, I’ve stopped looking at the unknown in the way a girl would disapprovingly judge another girl’s outfit. I’ve learned to accept that some things can’t be figured out right away and that some things need time to surface.
I have no idea where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing a month from right now but whatever it is, I’ll make it worthwhile. However,one thing’s for certain, I will continue to represent myself as a proud coffee addict.