Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Oklahoma - A Time to Die
Yet at other times, I am sleeping at the wheel, letting my own convoluted thoughts steer me in the wrong direction, veering off the road until I crash into a tree and wake up slapping myself upside the head in grateful disbelief.
Right now, at this very moment in my life, I am so highly tuned into these divine signals - the frequency, pitch and tone of the messages I am receiving are along the lines of having the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in my head serenading me with a multitude of HAL - LE - LU - YA's.
This brings me to the most recent soul awakening conclusion revealed to me during my Thanksgiving trek back to Oklahoma - the place of my birth, my home for the first 37 years of my life. My beloved red dirt wearing, tornado flying, flat as a pancake, peaceful, low tax, friendliest-people-on-the-face-of-the-earth Oklahoma is not my home anymore.
When I first moved to Wisconsin, it was not easy. Yes, it was exciting and necessary to move in order for us to begin our new life; but leaving my home state was immensely troublesome. I was often homesick. Whenever I found myself with a travel layover, I would seek out the gate with the departure to Oklahoma City. I remember sitting at those gates basking in the Oklahoma that surrounded me. I would soak in their warmth and drink from their accents, feeling completely at home with them.
People from Oklahoma have a certain look about them. You can see a softness, even when they are abrasive-- it's still there; the gentle, familiar, cushy undertone.
This trip was different. Something was not right. I wasn't recognizing them anymore. Had they changed or was it me? It had been almost three years since I had buried my mother. Dad was gone, two out of three brothers are dead and the remaining one has checked out. Seeing their children, my nieces and nephew, was a joy and a privilege. It made me want to see them more. I have extended family and many friends who always welcome me with the kind of love that can only be found at home; yet, I felt myself longing to be back in Wisconsin.
I wanted to go home.
Perhaps it was the trio we encountered at the hotel swimming pool. I refer to them as Gansta Dude, Crack Whore and the Prostitute they brought along for some "adult" fun while my kids were playing nearby. Crack Whore sucked, no chewed, on a pacifier while Gansta Dude wore an overstuffed parka inside the moist heat of the indoor pool and Prostitute was asked to perform various duties ranging from fist fights with Crack Whore to sex in the hot tub.
My kids were kept busy with assorted forms of lifeguard/shark/victim role-playing, Marco Polo, etc. They didn't notice. My mother bear instincts were telling me to play it calm and ignore them (while keeping one eye glued to them), to not engage in a confrontation and to not report them to the front desk. They left after a half hour or so. I think we were spoiling their ambiance.
I wanted to go home.
There was a beggar or two or three or four at every major intersection, all holding various cardboard signs explaining their plight. My children wanted to give them all money. As I drove along, they kept shouting for me to stop as they read aloud from the dilapidated placards, this one was a former Marine, this one is old, that one is homeless, mom, mom, mom, we have to help this one, look mom, look--he's holding a sign with a happy face on it.
I wanted to go home.
The signs were everywhere, pointing me in the direction of Wisconsin; but perhaps none more-so than my shock and disbelief at the condition of my last remaining brother and his house, our house, the house I grew up in had begun to fall into disrepair. My brother's wife is a hoarder. She doesn't have any dead cat carcasses, piles of human feces or goats eating through her walls but she is well on her way.
My brother is drinking again and he will die soon, just as the other two had done, by slowly drinking themselves to death. The Hepatitis C will make certain work of it. I've seen it before, it is an appallingly monstrous way to die. This is why I was so easily convinced to leave Oklahoma over nine years ago. The first brother had died, with me at his bedside and the second one was well on his way.
(To be continued...)
Art Credit: Bouguereau Girl in the Cross Timbers of Oklahoma,by Margaret Aycock