February 1 marks the 20th anniversary of my last trip back to Wisconsin. When I showed up on my mom’s doorstep once again she begged me to promise never to move out of state again. Making that promise was easier than keeping it. For the first few years I struggled with the urge to pack up the boys and everything I could fit into the car and head back “home” to TX. But despite my faults, I’ve always kept my word. At one point I even tearfully begged my mom to release me from that promise and let me go back. Despite how much it hurt her she did… but I stayed.
Its only been since the last 10 years that I finally started to test the waters and attempt to put down some roots. After living in Wisconsin Rapids for four years, I was pretty proud of myself. I had never lived that long in one place my entire adult life and I felt I deserved a pat on the back. I was sure I had tamed the wayward gypsy within me. But pride comes before a fall.
Dad passed away and all it took were a few other bumps in the road and I seized the first opportunity to pack everything up and RUN. It was nearly seven months and two moves before the fog cleared and I realized what I’d done. I was so sick and ashamed at myself for giving in to the very thing I was trying my best to overcome.
We’ve been in Weyauwega for two years now and despite the fact that we landed here because I screwed up, I have to admit that God has turned it into something positive. The kids have friends and a good school, there have been changes in Darrell that I never thought were possible, and the business took a flying leap off an immense cliff and managed to sprout wings before hitting the ground. As wonderful and amazing as all of these are, there’s one more positive that has come from this. For the first time in my life I left behind friends that didn’t let me go when I walked out. Friends who have been and still are right where I need them when I need them.
My dad is gone and there’s nothing left for me in the small town of Belvidere IL where I was born and lived for the first 14 years of my life. But I know I can go back and see the house where we lived, the park where we played and where I walked to school every day, the church he dragged me to every time the doors were open… the place where memories were made. I’ll always regret I didn’t give that exact same experience to my kids. They do consider Wisconsin Rapids their first home though and even though we only spent four years there they did develop some of those same kinds of memories.
It is my hope that Weyauwega will be our forever home. I want to give the kids something I never had – that one place that you always go back to. The place where they bring their kids to relive the memories of their childhood.