Anytime I head back to Oklahoma, I seek out friends and family members who have the power to hold conversations that fill me up. They don’t ask cliché questions about living in Seattle. They ask bold questions; questions that cause pause and reflection. They provide a new way of looking at things. We shift with ease from jokes, to music, to politics, to love, life, society and everything in between. I walk away from every one of these instances with a better understanding of myself and those I love.
Driving around Oklahoma City, it is apparent that an old city is being reborn. Every corner and enclave is under construction. Old stomping grounds are beginning to look unfamiliar. New bars, shops, homes and places to explore are everywhere. The Oklahoma City of my childhood and young adult life is slowly fading. With this transformation and growth, I hope OKC doesn’t lose its charm. For eight years, it held me tight. I hope a version of the magic that drew me there to begin with isn’t replaced.
But with growth, comes gentrification. Head in any direction from the downtown core and you see old neighborhoods slowly changing. New people are moving in and the old residents are slowly being pushed toward the suburbs. As I drove around town with some friends, I thought to myself, soon these people won’t live here anymore. Like most cities, I doubt OKC will do anything to address this problem. The allure of the new and the possibility of pulling in people with much higher disposable income is just too tempting.
One of the most common questions I get when I go back home is, “When are you moving back?” Some say it jokingly. Others expect me to circle a date on the calendar. The further I get away from calling myself a resident of Oklahoma, the more comfortable I become with the notion. Sure, there are moments when something makes national headlines and I think I should be there fighting, volunteering or working for the other side of the argument. Those moments are becoming fewer and farther between, though. Oklahoma will always be home and will always have a piece of my heart, but the things I am passionate about and want to spend my life addressing lie elsewhere. As time marches forward, I am becoming more and more comfortable with this idea.
Finally, and most importantly, this last trip happened over the Christmas holiday. As a family, it was our first without my brother, Lucas. Everything we did seemed to be missing a fundamental piece. Opening presents seemed odd. Laughing seemed wrong. Smiles were suspect. No one needed to vocalize the challenge before us. We all knew. With that said, I don’t know if Lucas is observing us from some far off heavenly body, but I hope we made him proud. I hope he witnessed the family he drew near. I hope his love shined through us all. More than anything, I hope his love is the gift we can keep on giving.
Thanks for entering my world,