Ah, Midwest.

I miss home. But it’s not that freshman in college longing, not the inertia from that constant definition of home embedding itself in my mind as, just a month or so into my college experience, I find myself alone on a Saturday night. No, no. It’s the transition into that long-removed, distant feeling of longing; it is a nostalgia, of the sense. It’s that same feeling you have when you think of your first girlfriend, or those summers where the only source of your worry was the weather. You are attached to it, sure, but it is no longer physically a part of you. Home, as you once defined it, is no more your home than your new home, and indeed it is probably less so than your home now. You are in between, attached to a shiny, powerful new culture and place yet also attached to that Midwest, that plain of rolling hills and green and competitive door holding and Lake Michigan and all the nicest people you will ever meet. As much as you wish to stay with it, though, you see yourself as you fall away, that array of Midwest and Midwestern friendships transitioning into the Northeast, into global friendships. You watch, yes, the lives of everyone back home develop without you, and as much as you try to stay close to them, you are, 1,000 miles removed, no more than a passing thought in their unperturbed lives. As they are to you, you are one source of their distant nostalgia, but no longer part of their lives: You are a memory, a faint whisper of mist in the thin morning air, your physical presence nothing more than the pulses of a few neurons.

I am 1,000 miles away, separated not just by a timezone but by an entire culture. I have been swept into a collegiate environment that few people in the world will ever know, and that is so far removed–even sheltered–from the typical college experience, and even the typical life experience, that it might as well be a whole different culture itself. While this experience will thrust me into tremendous and otherwise unthinkable transformations, from personal to intellectual, I know now that, as a consequence of my bargain, I will have forever given up the person I once was–the original me. Through my rosy glasses I can see that past. I can see the evening summer bike rides with my friends, the rap music playing in the background as we sought a building to climb or a lake to cliff jump into. I can see the late summer storm chases with my father, the rain pelting our car as we watched the lightning storm and drank our slurpees. I can see that secretive relationship–that first love that no one knew about–and the many, many lovely dates that accompanied it. I can see the many nights alone at the observatory, at Kettle Moraine, at White Mound, at Newport State Park, the sky embracing me in its warm, coruscant arms. I can see the random day trips to hiking spots while everyone else was in school–the meditation on the lakefront, with not a soul in sight. I can see it all, as clear and as pulchritudinous as a Wisconsin sunset, and yet symbolically a Wisconsin sunset also. While I come home enough to still be somewhat attached to my original home (I will be home for around four weeks in the entire year of 2024), I know that all of this is at least somewhat behind me. My friends are all adults, and I no longer have my bike in Wisconsin. The storms, which ignite most often in May and August, will be occurring while I am in Boston, or China, or Vietnam. That relationship has long since ended, and I am no longer attached to the woman with whom I shared that time. I have lost my observatory keys, and I am no longer home long enough to find a clear window for observing. My random hiking spots are now all in the Northeast, or somewhere else in the world. My teacher tells me that nostalgia is a form of desire, and therefore a form of suffering that is preventing me from being in the present. I am no longer attached to them to the point of suffering, yes, but. Well.

I must admit, I am not sure why I am writing here to you, at 2:41 AM. Especially considering that despite how things may appear, I am not even the character in this essay. “I” refers not to me, or to any of you. It is an abstraction, a demonstration of the fact that I am living a life that, though it makes sense to me at this moment, is at odds with every life experience I’d had before. I am traveling to ten countries in eight months, spending 110 days traveling in 2024, making friends from literally every corner of the world, gaining knowledge and intellectual prowess that I never thought I could harness, and mending my mind and soul into something that could, perhaps, benefit the world. But I do not know. Sometimes I just crave a box of Culver’s cheese curds and one more bike ride with my friends.

Note: Hello all! If you are from Wisconsin and would like to update me on how your life is going, please do! I really want to stay in contact with you (whoever you are, seriously), and I would be honored to hear how your life is, like mine, progressing into something, well, different. Best wishes to you all! You are loved and loving.


  1. You will never be just a passing thought or memory to me! To me, you are everything. And this essay is beautifully written. I loved it . ❤️

  2. This is very real and I relate heavily. Good work.

  3. Miss you William. Hope you’re doing well :)


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