We Won’t Be Going Back There
A visit to Milwaukee.
One of my favorite bars in Milwaukee bought a small building next to it. They fixed it up with bright paints in teal and yellow, and called it a coffee shop. With a wide patio beneath it, and enough heat lamps for chilly, Wisconsin temps, it became something new entirely.
While I’m visiting my partner, I stopped here for coffee. He doesn’t drink it as regularly as I do, so it was nice to get out of his place for fresh air. I thought they would have just an espresso set up in the bar. I pulled on the locked doors, before realizing that an entire, separate building was around the corner.
Nomad the bar.
Nomad the coffee shop.
Things change. And they didn’t stop.
When I was in Milwaukee, I was constantly craving more. More love. More adventure. More life.
I would often start a project, something that requires community and feedback, and leave it before it ever got started. Arranging things overwhelmed me. Emails to confirm went unanswered. I was wishy washy in my wanting.
On Brady street, I felt hints of that “more” I was seeking. Coffee shops, bars I could call “my spot”, life and life and life.
Being back here now, I feel like I’m bursting at the seams with all I’ve experienced. The ghost of me walks beside me, the one who wanted so much more and wasn’t sure how to go about it. But eventually, I began making memories.
Some of them stuck with me so clearly, that even looking at the building made me feel sad or nauseous.
I wrote this prose poem five years ago. Five! When I thought I would never ever recover, but was eventually seeing the wonder in having loved so deeply. I want to attach memories to places that can be replaced and recycled and revisited.
When I lived with my parents, I imagined a life in a big city. With restaurants and coffee shops and latenight dancing. I wanted, frankly, what I saw white people had. I didn’t see Black people sipping wine and visiting art galleries and having dinner parties. Not until shows like “girlfriends” at least.
I felt guilty wanting “more”. What was wrong with the club? The restaurants and entertainment on one side of the city versus another?
In college, and in my first place after living with my family, I discovered that “more”
I wanted grunge, messiness, dive bars, kissing strangers. I wanted a life that didn’t have to look a certain way. I found that. I found it at the bottom of the tub my roommates and I filled with water balloons. I found it across our gross living room, leaning over to kiss my neighbor after my first real game of truth or dare at 22. I found it in the faceless men I would fuck and then ignore after I got what I wanted.
Once I was done, for the most part, with “catching up to life” after my abusive relationship in Georgia and mind melting trauma, I was tired.
There’s always going to be a part of me that wants more. The part that wants to wring every last bit of adventure out of life. I want to know what it feels like to be on fire. At all times.
When I’m back in Milwaukee, it reminds me of all that I’ve done, and all that I will do. I want desperately for life to be enough. And when my depression whispers that, “it never will be, that this is all there is so what’s the point of hanging around?”, I take deep breaths, and remember. Fingers running across the brick of buildings like they’re old lovers, remember.
There’s so much more.