Gary and I never planned to settle down in Oklahoma, much less return to my parents’ hometown. Gary had lived 90% of his life in California and I had spent at least half of my life there. We spent most of the first twenty years of our married life in the concrete confines of a city. Oklahoma truly seemed like a foreign country to Gary when we first vacationed here. The towns are small. The people are all related. The weather is wild and unpredictable. The land is filled with insects and critters that sting and scratch and bite. You often have to drive a long distance to get something we used to drive a block or two to obtain.
But life and times and attitudes change. Age rearranges priorities. Experience produces a better understanding of a place and a greater appreciation for its unique qualities.
Someone at our anniversary party asked if we ever wanted to return to California and it was Gary who spoke first and said, “No”. While we enjoy vacations there and would probably visit even if we didn’t have family, we have no desire to once again call it home. We’ve grown to love the peace and stability of our life in Oklahoma. Being related to dozens and dozens of people is remarkable. Living in a town that has been home to generations of the same families is comforting and calming. We even like the unpredictable weather, and I don’t think either of us could now imagine not being surrounded by insects and critters. And it has become apparent to both of us that driving somewhere else to get something is far better than having the stores and traffic and crowds in your backyard!
Moving to Oklahoma also gave us the opportunity to transform our lives and I’m not sure we could have done that anywhere else. Gary went to truck driving school and embarked on a new career with the confident knowledge that I had family and friends to support and assist me when he was gone. I returned to school and got my teaching degree because I finally had the time and finances to do so. We have both been very happy with the choices we’ve made in the past twenty years.
I’m sure our children will return to their city lives with a sigh of relief that they don’t live out in the country with their old parents. They may even poke fun at our “Okie” ways and less than contemporary lifestyle; I certainly did the same when I was their age. But they can rest assured that we are blissfully happy Okies and wouldn’t dream of moving to another state.