I was born in Philadelphia. I love Philadelphia. I love the city, the history, oh the sweet history, the people, the sports teams, the food. I have a ton of family there. I lived there for awhile. I refer to it as ‘home’ sometimes. But more and more often, I have found myself calling Oklahoma home.
I lived there longer than any other place in my whole life.Did I love it? Not really. I went from Philadelphia, a city of like a bajillion people, to what I thought was surely the smallest town on the face of the planet, population 2,500.
Don’t misunderstand me, it is a great little town. But my problem with it was that it’s a little town. Small town living just doesn’t suit me – I can’t farm. I can barely ride a horse, and if you asked me to saddle one I’d laugh at you and walk away. I can’t milk a cow. And I don’t like to drive very far. When you live in a small town you get accustomed to driving EVERYWHERE. If I can’t be there in about ten minutes, I probably don’t want to go.
I often joke that this sleepy little town is a geographical oddity – it is half an hour from everywhere. I’m only sort of kidding.
But, I lived there for a long time. I was there when I learned what domestic terrorism is and what it looks like. I learned how to read weather maps before I mastered multiplication (although, math has never been my strong suit so that might not be saying much). I learned how to tell apart different types of clouds and which ones to really keep an eye on before I was a teenager. I was there for the May 3rd tornado. And the May 8th tornado.
Now I live in Kansas. And I had to watch as the May 20th tornado tore through Moore. Again. I had to watch the streaming news feed from KFOR from my desk at work. While I was at work in Kansas, parents were frantically trying to get to their children.
I can’t even imagine the pain. I don’t have children of my own. But I know how I would feel if one of the children in those schools was one of my nieces or nephews. I would be sick to my stomach. I would be completely beside myself, distraught, and inconsolable. And I imagine it is not even a fraction of the pain a parent feels.
But, I do know what it feels like to be from Oklahoma. There is a resiliancy that is unmatched, unparalelled, unheard of. The Oklahoma Standard it’s called.
Life throws all sorts of terrible things at everyone, but for some reason, Oklahomans get hit hard. Terrorists. Tornadoes. Earthquakes. Fire.
And every single time Oklahomans come together, unite, help each other out, bring each other back, and the state just seems a little bit better.
I think Oklahomans are handed the hardest trials because whatever powers that be know that Oklahomans can handle it.
Too often Oklahoma is seen on a national level for bad politics, terrible natural disasters, or ‘controversial’ sports team moves. Too little is Oklahoma seen for what it truly is – an entire state of neighbors. Friendly, proud people that are literally willing to give you the shirt off their back in order to help you out.
Too little is Oklahoma thought of for anything other than Native Americans, cowboys, depressions, tornadoes, a bombing.
But, every year that passes, when I’m asked the question, ‘where are you from?’ I start to answer Oklahoma.
And I’m proud of that.
Oklahoma, you will come through this. Just like you have every time before this.
Because you’re amazing.