Messy affairs in moving away from Madison

After months of cold winter, the last sheet of ice finally cracks on Lake Mendota and the first spring buds start to bloom on Bascom. The green, orange and yellow chairs appear on the Terrace, and the warm sun shines over campus. Madison is the place to be.

… And what do you know, by the time I finally have a free afternoon, it’s time to pack up and go home. I’ve considered finding a Madison summer sublet, but this year, it might not be in the cards. So begins the process of planning my move back home.

Every year, getting my stuff from Madison to my mom’s house can be a challenge because my hometown, Rockville, Md., is about 800 miles away—you might recognize my city’s name from the R.E.M. song “(Don’t Go Back to) Rockville.” 

Over the past semesters, I’ve tried out different itineraries that have involved various combinations of planes, trains and automobiles, but no matter what, I’m really just not good at this whole moving thing. 

Take my first trip home freshman year as an example. 

Going home at winter break is like a practice round for moving in the spring. You cram half your stuff into bags on a deadline and find some mode of transportation to take you from point A to point B. For me, this meant taking the Badger Bus to Milwaukee and taking a plane from there to Baltimore. 

Fool-proof enough, right? Nope. 

Somehow, I managed to lose my glasses while I was on the bus—as in I left the bus having no idea where they were, despite searching high and low. After spending three days squinting, I received an email that my glasses had turned up in my seatmate’s suitcase. In Waukesha. 

This experience ended up being an omen for semesters to come. 

The following spring, move-out day crept up on me. Scurrying to come up with a plan, at the last minute, my family decided it would make sense for my dad and grandpa to come get me. 

After making the grueling two-day trip in one stretch, my dad arrived at Witte in… not the best mood. He looked like his plan to unloft my bed was going to consist of throwing it out the window. 

The next morning, we got on the road. Somehow, despite several missed exits, a near-death experience on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and a case of pink eye, we arrived in Rockville in one piece.

By sophomore year, I figured it would make more sense to fly to and from Madison at the beginning and end of the year. Save a few delayed planes and missed buses, this proved pretty easy (by the time I was 20, I had learned how to keep my glasses on my face and out of my neighbor’s suitcase). On a cheap airline, it was actually more affordable than driving since I had a place in Madison where I could store my stuff for free. 

This year, though, I might not be so lucky when it comes to finding a place to leave my things. Shipping furniture and checking bags can get expensive, and something tells me I won’t be able to count a room-sized rug and a microwave with a comforter stuffed into it as carry-ons.

As of right now, I’m on the lookout for a hidden storage closet in Vilas that goes unused for the summer. But if that doesn’t pan out, maybe I should just reconsider R.E.M.’s advice.

Has a band ever written a song telling people not to return to your town? Do you go back regardless? Share your moving experiences with Rachel at rmschulze@wisc.edu.

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