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They Say You Can’t Go Home Again

I heard an expression once that you can’t go home again, that once you leave home it will never “be home” again. Hmmm, I’m not sure what to think about that expression, as I have now lived both sides of the coin, and I have experienced many adventures that could prove and disprove that statement. I am here to set the record straight on what and where “home” really is, enjoy the read!

It would be late August that I was feeling, again, home sick. WHAT was my problem? I had met my dream head on and accomplished it, I had an awesome family, what was missing that I couldn’t get past? Then I hopped on Facebook and saw the faces of friends and family, looked through pictures I had taken before I left WI, and I thought “I need to go home.” Thus the current trip to WI was born.

But where is home now? Is it where I came from, or the new one I have started with my husband and children? It was almost a test, in fact, it feels like this visit to WI has been just that. I truly believe that God has been whispering for some time in my ear “You can’t have it both ways.” What, you may ask, does that mean? Well, I believe it means that you can’t have everything you want in this life. Wanting doesn’t mean you should have it, or that you more than most times, even NEED it. Yes, I wanted to come here to visit my friends and family, and yes, I feel I needed it. But, I am here to tell you, home isn’t in Appleton, WI anymore.

When Dad picked me up at the airport last week, I was so excited. I love to fly on my own, as I feel a bit independent for awhile, so it’s a bit exhilarating for me to say the least. He was at the end of my gate, and it was a nice face to see after leaving my family in Orlando. As we got closer and closer to Appleton, my heart was thumping out of my chest. Excitement, and yet nervous, to see what reactions I would get from family and friends on my arrival.

Facebook is a wonderful invention, but it is also a curse when you want to try and keep a secret. I wanted to surprise my choir friends at church, so I purposely didn’t say a thing on FB about when and what I was going to be coming to WI. By the way, for everyone who guessed what the secret was, thanks for the chuckle! Anyways, the minute Dad drove the familiar highways and streets I had known for 11 years, it became very apparent that this was not home anymore.

I stayed with my best friend, who kindly let me use her car to get around town. Driving to choir that evening was borderline crazy, as I was so pumped to see my friends and church. I headed in, and thankfully they were worshiping when I snuck in. So once the lights came back up, I walked up to my row and told one of my good friends to move her feet, sarcastically of course, and she did a double take, then screamed. It was the reaction I had hoped for, and I had many people saying “Are you back? Are you here to stay?” It was painful to say “No, just visiting” and to see their expression of disappointment. In those moments, I almost wish I could have said “Yes, I’m back” only because those people will never know how much I truly love them and miss them. To get my choir life back would be wonderful, but I know that’s not in the cards, nor reality, so I try not to go there in my thoughts at night.

The rest of my week was spent with Kelly, crocheting and getting her son, Josiah, to say my name. It had been 5 months since I last laid eyes on this cutie, and I was excited to hang out with him again. It was hard last time seeing him and knowing I wouldn’t get to watch him grow, or watch the fun of Kelly and Ryan parenting a toddler, but I knew they would all be ok. When I leave again, I know they will still be ok. So I started another blanket, which of course Kel started for me, and we hung out like old times- eating Twizzlers and watching tv. I even wound up napping at her house, which was quite snuggly as it was freezing cold and windy here the first couple of days. I popped into my old job to say hello, and also had some fun meals with great friends.

Speaking of the weather, when Craig and the kids took me to the Airport in Orlando, he jokingly said “Remember this warm weather, cause you aren’t going to feel it for the next 10 days.” I, of course, thought he was a smart alec, but I knew he would be right. The minute I stepped off the plane in Milwaukee, I was FREEZING. Good thing I didn’t bring a jacket- yes, you heard me, no jacket. I almost wore shorts to WI because I refused to put pants on at first- but after wising up to the Midwest forecast, I brought a couple pairs for the trip. When Dad went to get the van, I waited curbside, in my WDW sweatshirt, and froze. It was quite comical because all I kept thinking was “Yep, you are a FL brat now who can’t take the cold anymore.”

Friday would bring more excitement, as I would get to see my Mom for lunch and light shopping before heading to Angie’s for the weekend. Kelly dropped me off to see Mom at Kohls, and it felt like I was the kid nobody wanted- being carted and dropped off from place to place, person to person. Oh, I’m not complaining, I saved money not having to rent a car. It was just funny the drop-off situations after awhile. When I saw my Moms yellow car in the parking lot, I screamed with excitement. My mother screams “Home” for me- no one else does. I ran to the driver’s side and practically tackled her with a hug. Yes, I just saw her 2 weeks ago, but getting to see her so soon again made me incredibly happy. We shopped, we dined, and it was like I had never left. That became the problem- it was like I had never left. I was driving her car again, eating at the same place, shopping the same stores, and it felt almost odd. It was like repeating a chapter of your life that you SWEAR you have already lived, and yet, there you are, living it the same way- again. Déjà vu can’t even do it justice, it was just weird. I said my goodbyes, but not for good, as I will be seeing her again this week.

The weekend brought so much girl fun that even the best chick flick would probably roll their eyes at me. Tons of fun movies, some experimental beverages, thrift store shopping, eating out and eating in, and girl talk on a bed until 1 in the morning. When people ask me why I am homesick in FL, it’s these times that I reflect on in the past. I have yet to find that girl best friend in FL who I can trust, who is loyal, who loves me unconditionally and still likes me, and who can sit on a bed with me until the early hours of the morning and laugh till it hurts. The very thought of never finding someone like Kelly or Angie in FL is terrifying to me- and being here with them these past days has made me more sad about what awaits me in FL. I love my kids and my hubby, but they aren’t the girl friends I need. I have made a few, but I need that one person I can count on who won’t back stab me or hurt me like others have. Please God, help me find a FL best friend.

You know the funny part about singing with the choir today, Sunday, was that I wasn’t sad this time. The last time I was up on stage with all of them, I couldn’t stop the tears. Today, I couldn’t stop smiling or stop thinking about how tired I was. I forgot how rough singing three services was, and my feet were paying for it. It was so nice to see all those awesome faces again, and to be singing with my sopranos. It would be another moment that I thought “Wow, it’s like I never left.” Yet when I looked out into the congregation, there were key people missing. Craig, Kyra, and Emily always supported my choir mornings, and it was always a joy to see them out there, smiling back at me. It was tough not seeing them there, but it was also nice to see others smiling back at me who I hadn’t seen in quite a long time.

So as I embark on my 2nd week here in WI, I have several errands to run and complete. It’s funny how many places in Appleton that my family and I would go and say “This is like Disney…” and feel the magic there. Now I go to WDW anytime I feel like it, and the magic I once craved so badly is right at my fingertips. I got emotional driving past our old place, as it brought back the memories of our epic garage sale and all the good times we had there. But, it wasn’t home anymore. Driving through the neighborhood Craig and I must have walked a hundred times over the years, seemed empty and grey now without him here to share it with. Almost like this Appleton is in an alternate universe, and the one I knew lives somewhere else.

I have tried to soak up every minute and moment of my time here, as I know that soon enough I will be landing in Orlando and resuming my life there. It’s a hard thing to realize that when you leave someone and somewhere, that life goes on without you. The thing is, if I was able to move back to WI now, I couldn’t do it. I can “feel” that I just don’t belong here anymore, that I am literally visiting the city of Appleton as a guest. Even though Mom and Dad are here, and my best friends and Church, it would never be the same as it was before we left. Change is inevitable in all of our lives, and I have learned that if you try fighting it, it just makes it a heck of lot messier.

I continue to believe that God has a bigger purpose for us in the Orlando area, and whatever that is, I have to be led by my faith, not sight, to see it through. Relocation has been one of the hardest things I have ever done, but it has also been one of the most rewarding. I have stumbled so many times in this walk, in this dream, that sometimes I don’t remember when or how I ever got back up. The point is, I got back up. If this trip to WI has led me to anything, it has led me to the conclusion that life has moved on for the Petermann family, and that THAT is a good thing. You will second guess until the cows come home if you made the right choice in moving your family, but then a light comes on and it seems so obvious that it’s almost pathetic you didn’t see it in the first place…

Home will always be where I loved, and was loved, the most. So thank you, Wisconsin and all those who loved me- you will be missed. I look forward to seeing you, Florida, soon, and getting back to where I am loved the most. God bless your week!


  1. Amy, I’ve heard the saying “You can’t go forward until you go back”, and I guess this really applies to what you are experiencing. I am so glad for you that by going home to visit, you have reaffirmed that Orlando really is “home” now. I imagine that leaving family and friends will still be hard, but not nearly as hard now that you know you are going back home!

    On another note, I am going to be in your old territory next weekend! I am a southern girl from Atlanta, and I have never been to Wisconsin, so it will be an interesting trip for me. My family and I are flying into Milwaukee and driving to Green Bay for a wedding this weekend. I didn’t realize how close I would be to Appleton until I saw your picture of the airport sign and looked it up on a map. We are even attending the rehearsal dinner at Lambeau field!

    I hope the rest of your trip is wonderful!


  2. Great post, Amy, and so true!! When we left Chicago, we were leaving our children, our grandchildren, lifelong friends, a home my husband’s great-grandfather had built (our children were the 5th generation to live in it uninterrupted) and wondered at our decision to move. Yet we knew the Lord was leading us to Florida. We went back 5 months after we moved to see our newest grandson and the trip affirmed that Florida was home. After 8-1/2 years in Florida, we can’t imagine living anywhere else.


  3. Loved this Ames! Totally made me cry!! No matter how sad I am … and how much I cried at the thought that you don’t feel Appleton is your home, I am so happy for you that FL is feeling like your home! No matter how much I want you here (in Appleton), I know your place is with your family in Florida. I would never want you to keep looking back at what might of been because your life and dreams are in Florida for this stage of your life. I am so proud of you and what you and your family have accomplished! God is watching out for you and I know I can trust in that! Please know that I am here for you at any time and that I will always love you unconditionally in whatever state you live! Love you Ames!!!


  4. Wow, Ames. What an amazing blog post. I totally understand everything you wrote here. I totally understand your affinity to the place that you spent so many years with all of your family and friends. But know that I will always be here for you in your new home in Florida. I will try to help you every time you ever get homesick for Wisconsin. And I will help you in your transition to your new home here. I hope you know you can always count on me. With much love, Otis


  5. This entry was amazing!!! I’ve lived it as I moved from my home close to my parents/family/friends to a city/state 800 miles away several years ago. No matter how much I loved my adventure – everything familiar was behind me.

    I feel or have felt all the emotions you are now going thru. Keep your faith that you are in the place you are meant to be. Give your friends/family a huge hug before you go and know in your heart, you are only a prayer/thought away from them.


  6. great post Amy. After moving to Maine from NY in HS, I went back to visit less than a year later and it was painfully obvious that I did not belong there anymore. I hadn’t wanted to move to Maine at all but in the end, it was the best choice my parents could have made for me. I’m still here after all these years. Thinking about moving to Florida now I know that if I go, the peope that loved me here will keep moving on with their lives and we will not be as close as we were when I lived in the same town. That alone has kept me living in a place where I have seasonal depression half of the year! I would miss my BFF so much! I totally understand the need for a true BFF. They are tough to find sometimes but I know in my heart that you will find yours in Florida.


  7. Wow, Amy, you made me wish I lived closer to Orlando — not for WDW, but for YOU! 🙂

    When we moved to FL from Vegas, I left behind the past 25+ years of my life. It was a hard, defined cut-off point. It was very difficult for us to go back and visit 7 months later, to find that life hadn’t come to a screeching halt in our absence. Friends made other friends. We missed all sorts of stuff that happened in our best friends’ lives. We fought against the injustices of it all, but as it was put so bluntly, it’s not their fault. We’re the ones that left.

    I finally delineated it thusly:
    Home = Where my mortgage and avocado trees live.
    Back Home = Where I grew up.
    Home-ish = Temporary relocation locale, such as this summer’s condo (but it was only “the condo” when the cats weren’t with us).


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