Well Tulsa, It’s about that time. I’m leaving you. This time, I think, for good.
I came to you with my mom from Connecticut after my dad died when I was 7. We were supposed to be moving to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, but my mom made a permanent detour via Southern Illinois and then here when I was in the 8th grade.
I started school in one of your junior highs, where the boys in my 8th grade band class were not too kind in their words to me as I was “welcomed” to Tulsa and into the band. When the band instructor introduced this new barely pubescent 12 year old flutist from Illinois, the boys in percussion chimed in. “Is she pointed or flat?” Said the first. “She’s flat.” Replied his buddy. To which the band instructor said “ .“ That was my first wrongful attachment of pain to you Tulsa. To be fair, I already had a chip on my shoulder for my mom not taking me to the beach in Florida.
I went on to two of your private high schools and graduated. I went away to a short lived college career before I returned to you at 17. I worked in your restaurants. Drank in your bars.
I escaped you at 19 for a year of fun in the mountains. Skiing and drinking in Crested Butte, Colorado.
Then a summer in Lake Tahoe working at Caesar’s. Then a couple of years in Texas. Houston first where I got married and drunk alot. Then on to Austin, where I got unmarried and sober. Once.
After that Tulsa, my car brought me back to you. All in my early days of sobriety. When the advice is to not make a major change in the first year. I must have thought that being blonde and left handed made me exempt as I left my husband and Texas with all that I owned in my car bearing a sign in the window which read, “Tulsa or Bust,” to return to you at less than six months sober. I went to a lot of your meetings. Loved and was loved by a lot of your people.
I spent three and a half months in one of your halfway (insane) houses, then several apartments over five or six years until that second marriage of 24 years happened.
We lived on your outskirts in the sod country of Bixby, Oklahoma for 14 years, where we built a lovely home, complete with three hand prints, one for mom, one for dad and one for 4 year old Abby, dated 2002 on the floor in the corner of the garage.
We fled from you for our first year of marriage to the Dutch Country of Pennsylvania. I could not be with you. I did not like you. I thought you made me unhappy. And I was sure that leaving you was the answer.
After one year of experiencing that the natives of Lancaster, PA only like people who visit and loathe those who bring moving vans, we aimed for Austin, Texas, but you had the job that fit the mechanical engineer in my house, so back to you, Tulsa, we came.
While you welcomed us back,that marriage of 24 years eventually ended here. And so did the dream I had spent have of my life believing in here in Tulsa.
My creative work of painting began here as my marriage was coming to a close. I started to paint whimsical furniture for kids going into foster care. I also started my real spiritual work with you Tulsa. I pushed up out of the ashes of my former life, and you generously provided me great teachers of what God does and doesn’t look like to teach me the lessons of the day.
I completed my treatment of and survival from breast cancer here with you Tulsa 18 years ago. Some of your docs could use some work, in my experience, but there were enough good ones here to meet my needs. I mean, I’m still here. Right?
I have known much unhappiness while living with you. You get dark in the winter and you are cold to me too. I have spent much of my time living with you complaining about you. About the way you look. You don’t have an ocean. Or mountains. Your lakes feel like big mud puddles with sticks and snakes and God knows what else in them. I sound like a bitchy wife or ungrateful child here. Don’t I?
One thing I have learned and forgotten and relearned over and over again in my spiritual walk of 35 years is that nothing is perfect and focusing on what I see as negative just makes it more so. Conversely, focusing on what I do like makes it even more so. In other words, it’s all about perspective. And appreciation or as I like to call it, gratitude.
Tulsa, I want to ask your forgiveness. You did nothing to me. My unhappiness was not your fault. Your version of traffic is nothing compared to what I knew in Texas. Your people are, for the most part, friendly and those who I was in relationship with for support, were quite loving indeed.
I could live with you and find the good in you of which there is much. And I learned to do that quite well as I learned and experienced over the years that my happiness is an inside job. To be done wherever my body resides.
But Tulsa, the God of my understanding has directed my body and soul to the beach. I suffer pains in my body and spirit in the darker days and cold of your winters. Each season is harder on me than the one before as my body and mind advance in age. We just aren’t a good match, you and me. Not today. And because of that Tulsa, I am leaving you.
I am an artist and while you have a quite impressive art community here, one that I only began to truly discover in the last year or so, my bliss is in the colors of the Emerald Coast of Destin, Florida, where I pick up keys to live on August 1. Sapphire blues, emerald greens, periwinkles, tangerines, pinks, turquoises-all my favorite palette to surround myself, dress myself and work with, all on the ever changing canvas that God puts out for my eyes to feast on there at the beach in the water and the sky. It pulls me like a magnet. That’s how God is in my experience.
And so does the weather, particularly their version of winter. I spent all of February there basking in their version of cold, while my daughter sent me pictures of the snowman she had made in our back yard. While I love the smile you put on her face as she stood next to said snowman with the hot pink spray painted boobs, I was so relieved that I could hang up the phone and be with the door open where my body was in a relatively warmer place.
I have a calling to help young women who are marked with the F word of Felony. Women who have done their time for their crime, which in most cases was non violent and drug related, done at a time of sickness not badness, but can’t get a break or a decent job in our society. I want to teach them to paint and sell furniture. Something I began here with you Tulsa. And I have found a community of these women in Florida who I can help.
I do love you Tulsa. You do have your own unique beauty and style. Your Riverside Drive along the Arkansas River. Your Philbrook Museum, Woodward Park and Mapleridge neighborhood, just to name a few.
You have provided me with good friends, great loves, jobs, shelter, amazing doctors, wonderful homes, terrific neighbors, treasured memories, and you are the birthplace of my favorite co-creation, my daughter Abby.
Thanks for my Happy House. The one on Rockford Place. The one with the hot pink door. This has brought me great joy. My back yard full of bunnies doing what bunnies do best as they just keep making bunnies. For my sun porch where my art grew as my heart grew. And my living room filled with light all around and my ever changing pictures of my picture window. What a delightful revolving evolving art show that has been to see. With each passing moment, as I look out through the panes.
And my front porch that I took for granted until the pandemic hit. That porch became my window to my spiritual friends. Where I sat perched at 8 am, every day since March, armed with phone, coffee and gratitude and a need for connection, abundantly filled by people all over the country. In that tiny screen on my phone. Channeling God through channel Zoom.
About Abby, Tulsa. I have never lived more than 20 minutes from her 22 year old self. And she is staying here with you. So, please. Take good care of my little girl. The one who lives inside of that bright, funny, gifted beautiful young woman of whom I am so proud. Surround her with your best God squad to protect her and love her as I will only be able to do so at an 800 mile distance. Keep her safe in her home and on your streets and in your workplaces and with those she keeps company with.
Thank you Tulsa. For being my home all these years. And for letting me go.