POSTED ON JULY 16, 2008:
Time to Reminisce
Fourth of July, fireworks and memories... ah, what a year
Not to Self. You are "down with O.P.P.", Isaac. You can dance to some Milli Vanilli or Jackson 5. It has nothing to do with unrealistic thoughts of making the top 20 of "So You Think You Can Dance," no matter what anyone tells you.
This year's Independence Day was my second in Tulsa. I spent my first, in 2007, on top of St. John Medical Center having returned less than 24 hours prior from Belize, after the conclusion of my Peace Corps service, via Cancun. A trip that is a little worse than it sounds.
If at any time in your life you find yourself saying, "I think it would be a good idea to, you know, drag all my worldly possessions from the capital of Belize north, up the Yucatan Peninsula, to Cancun," ignore it. It's not even in the same universe as a good idea. I remember sitting in a bus station, the wrong bus station, in Playa Del Carmen at 4am thinking, I don't want any of this shit. I am going to leave it all here. My mind suddenly flashed to a bearded American ex-pat rifling through my bags some three hours later and, after several minutes of digging, grumbling, "I don't want any of this shit. Who left this here?" I couldn't do it to the man. And, I'd already dragged my four bags across the border. I could almost smell Cancun.
Standing on top of St. John that evening, with no bags in hand, having my girlfriend point out the origin of various fireworks shows ("That one's probably coming from Skiatook"), was a night I don't think I will ever duplicate. So many thoughts were rushing through my head: These people (Tulsans) love fireworks just as much as Belizeans and Guatemalans. This city is huge. I'm so glad to be here with Cristi; we made it. Two years: it's over. What is a Skiatook? I'm glad I didn't leave my shit in Mexico.
A year later I am still unsure what exactly a Skiatook is, but I do know which direction it is, I don't think Tulsa is huge, and, outside of my lack of interest in text messaging, I am completely readjusted to life in the United States.
I've even gotten back into the collection of additional stuff, stuff that isn't good enough for my peers. Yard and garage sales. Tulsa has to be contending for most yard sales per capita. They're everywhere! I've stopped at several recently. My mind always seems to jump to PBS's "Antiques Roadshow". I'm my mother's son. I have this belief, partly thanks to her, that anything old is valuable, no matter the condition. This is why I'm so drawn to sales of this sort. Their trash. Ha. My treasure. Unfortunately, after I learn it's not valuable, only old and taking up floor space, it becomes my trash, too.
I seem to find myself sidetracked by them at the most inopportune of times. "That ice cream won't melt in the car," I'll say.
"Sure it won't. It's only 95 in the shade," my girlfriend will retort. Some ten minutes later, after the ice cream has curdled, I find myself saying something related to, "This one would go perfectly on my book case next to the other 900 books I'll never read. Maybe later in life I can drag it across the Canadian border. Whoa, wait, what about a strawberry huller. We could use that, right? They only want a dollar for it. A dollar!"
Now that I've been back for a year, it seems strange to celebrate such an anniversary, but my many memories of my friends, experiences, and commitments make for emotion. I think it's a scene I'll revisit in years to come. Because of this, I felt like reflecting last week. I felt like enjoying a little alone time with my female. Then, I felt like dancing. Getting out a bit.
It may sound like a week of ups and downs, but my second July 4 week in Tulsa was not as much an all-around whirlwind as my first. Less unpacking and clothes washing and much more working and relaxing. Fewer blank stares and Belizean Creole-laden conversations this year.
I did get to ride my first Tulsan "horse" this week, something that took me way too long to get to, although the horse was more a piece of art that strongly resembled a fusion between a horse-size pickle and a dildo than an actual equine. If you'd like to go for a ride on one of Russell Bellamy's "sex toy horses" you have an opportunity to do so until August 28 at Living Arts (http://russellbellamy.com). I recommend getting a boost.
One of the highlights of the week was dancing with my girlfriend in various downtown bars. It's something we don't do enough, but now that I have it written here I can revisit this over and over as a reminder of the fun that can be had (you can too). You are "down with O.P.P.", Isaac. You can dance to some Milli Vanilli or Jackson 5. It has nothing to do with unrealistic thoughts of making the top 20 of "So You Think You Can Dance," no matter what anyone tells you. You really are good, man.
The best aspect of the week was just being here and having the ability to share the holiday week with the woman I love. To discuss our various definitions of patriotism face to face. To hug after a disagreement instead of just waiting for the next phone conversation or email. To make dinner together. To go on a walk. To watch a movie and have that familiar hand squeeze at a moment that is scary or thought provoking. Even the annoying stuff wasn't that annoying this week.
Okay, maybe it was.
For anyone who has spent a length of time away from your partner, you know what I'm talking about. Or, you should.
As we sat next to one another watching the fireworks after the Drillers' game on the Fourth of July I again had many thoughts racing through my head. Some were about Tulsa. Some were about humans' love of fireworks. Some were about the dog we were having to console and how the events of the Fourth of July must be a preview of hell for dogs. But, mostly I was thinking I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
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