The passion of a cheesehead

Imagine a world where everything has been ripped away from you.

When I was 10 my parents decided to move our family from Mundelein, Illinois to Necedah, Wisconsin. My parents had taken us camping for many years in the same town they were planning to move us to.

To put it into perspective, Mundelein has a population of 31,000+ people whereas Necedah has close to 900.

I thought that the ho-dunk town was insignificant and would ruin my life. There were far too many farms, men in jean shorts and pickup trucks. My clothes would smell like cow manure and I was convinced the schools’ halls would be dusted with chicken poop and hay.

While on the way to our new, vile home I noticed the decreasing number of street lights as we drove with only our headlights for lighted protection.

Out of nowhere my father looked over to the side of the road smiling oddly out of the passenger window. He rolled down the window and started making clicking sounds with his mouth as he slowed the car to a stop.

Not only had the crisp Wisconsin air filled the back of the car but it had also filled my father’s head. And slowly it crept into my mother’s head too.

Annoyed with my parents, I turned to look out the window. There in the tall grass of the ditch was a deer — slowly chomping away on the weeds like my younger sister eating Thanksgiving dinner. After staring at this creature long enough to let everyone driving past us know that we weren’t from around here, we pulled away back on our journey to hell.

A few minutes later we turned onto a dirt road. Rolling up the windows to keep the dust out, my father told us we were almost home. Confused and rattled I noticed there were very few houses. What kind of monsters would isolate us from civilization?

As I became more convinced that we were going to live as monks in the woods, we pulled into the driveway of our new home.

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Time kept passing while living in Wisconsin and during that time I kept learning and adapting to Wisconsin culture.

I quickly learned that my teachers were serious when they called the water fountain a ‘bubbler’. While many of the other Wisconsin phrases like “you betcha” and “come here quick” began to roll off my own tongue I didn’t realize that I had started to blend in with the Wisconsin natives.

I watched as many of my high school friends geared up for the most glorified days of fall — the Packers’ games. It was despicable for students and teachers to wear anything other than green and gold on days before and after football games. It didn’t take much convincing to ask my parents for some of my own green and gold outfits, obviously not for the Packers though because ew, it’s Wisconsin.

The older I got the more my hatred for this cheesy state decreased. I watched as everyone around me cheered for their Wisconsin teams, their Wisconsin cheese and their Wisconsin beer. It is always harder to hate something when everyone around you has millions of reasons to love it.

It didn’t take me long to create my own reasons for loving Wisconsin, especially Necedah.

To name a few of many:

Everyone is so nice. You can smile at any Wisconsinite on the street and you’re guaranteed to get a genuine smile back.

My high school graduation took 30 minutes because there were 60 people in my graduating class.

I didn’t waste away my weekends spending money at a mall because the closest one was an hour away.

I [mostly] made the right decisions knowing that everyone in the small town would hear about it if I did something stupid.

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When I tell my Illinoisan peers that I had lived in Wisconsin for most of my life, many of them think about the beer.

Some of them think about the Packers.

And a small fraction think about the cheese.

But what isn’t thought about is the passion that these cheeseheads have for their state.

I now understand (and possibly even exceed) my parents’ infatuation with the deer, the Necedah community and the state of Wisconsin itself.

So now imagine a world where everything is ripped away from you and in return what is lost is replaced with something 10 times better than you had ever expected.

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