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I never thought I'd say this, but I'm going to miss Milwaukee.

When I first made my way here as a high school senior to tour the Marquette campus, my immediate reaction was "Ok, where is everything? What's there to do?" It all felt really scarce and didn't leave much of a first impression.

Maybe I'm spoiled, having come from the big city breeding ground that is the East coast, but I left that weekend with mixed feelings. Anyhow, one way or another I ended up coming right back that August. It's amazing what influence scholarships and grants have on your decision process.

Admittedly, much of that first year of school — and, if we're really being honest, the better part of the second — was spent crammed in some tiny basement fighting my way to a keg or staring down into the bottom of a plastic cup. I don't regret it, not for a second. What else is a freshman supposed to do on the weekend?

In the years that followed, however, I slowly began to see that Milwaukee had more to offer than what I had found in and around campus. There were bars, clubs, concert venues, restaurants and shops — all within arms reach. I can remember my first trip to Atomic Records, that first Dagwood burger at Ma' Fischer's, the first glorious visit to Value Village — admit it, you're as weak and powerless to the temptation of a $.99 "World's Greatest Dad" shirt as the rest of us — and even recently my first movie at the Oriental Theater — "Melinda and Melinda" was pretty good, I should add.

I've been thinking about these sort of things a lot lately, and the more I dwell on it the more I realize the immense debt of gratitude I'll owe this city as I prepare to leave in just a few weeks. Harleyfest kept the city up for three days straight, but it didn't matter, no one dared miss a second of it. Summerfest proved to live up to the hype I'd heard so much about, leaving my ears ringing and my head sluggish for days afterward. These are merely the highlights, but the truth is I can trace my good times here, on campus and off, to just about any given weekend from the past four years. As I prepare to close this huge chapter in my life, I think I'll aptly title it "Milwaukee."

That leads us to right here and now. With the school year winding down to a close, the only way to fittingly cap off our final section would be for us to pay homage to our fair city. With so much to see and do in only a short amount of time — four years isn't as long as it seems — we've decided to lay it all out there, providing you with a guide of where to go and what to check out for most any occasion.

It's easy to take things for granted when it's all right there in your backyard. But there will come a time for most of us when we'll leave this city behind for graduate school or maybe that crucial first job.

My advice to those with any time left on their college clocks is to soak it all in before it's gone. Go out, get drunk, have fun, catch a Brewers game, head on over to the Rave, hit up Water Street, check out the East Side and eat at Sobelman's at least once or you'll regret it. My time's up, and anyways I'm tired of writing and I'm sure you're through hearing me rant. So live it up, and thanks again Milwaukee.

This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on May 5 2005.

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