I used to say that I was from Louisiana, but then after spending all of my teen years in Michigan and young adult life in Ohio, it didn’t feel right not to give some credit to those places. Should we ever move away from Oklahoma, I’d feel ashamed not to give OKC credit for it’s part in stabilizing my later adult life. You know the saying “Home is where the heart is.”
I’m not military, but I imagine military folks understand this feeling and the love-hate relationship with places you’ve lived. I was born in Louisiana and spent the first ten years of my life there. This is where my blood is. This is where I fell in love with nature. I often miss the bayou, especially while I’m here in OKC where it feels like the earth is dry and colorless most of the year. When I think of family, Louisiana is where the majority of my family is. There’s a fondness. I also love the broader culture and places like New Orleans. I also miss the cajun food and the rain. We don’t get enough here in OKC.
However, there is a love-hate relationship with my hometown. My life began within a violent home. When my husband first suggested moving to Oklahoma, I was vehemently against it, simply because it was so close to “home”. I was still reeling with hatred and anger from that life. Growing up, I had to admit that ignorance and racism was also a fact of my hometown. Even today, I am aghast at the stupidity that resides there. However, since releasing my years of pent up anger, and becoming more accepting of those less intellectual, I have rekindled my love for Louisiana. All places will have there upsides and downsides. I have since entertained the idea of moving to New Orleans, were all the things I loved about Louisiana flourishes.
When I was ten years old, my mother moved us to Denver Colorado. I have never called it home, because it was a short 2 year stay and it was miserable. I was pulled away from my family and friends to a place where I had no one. I was taken from extreme warmth to extreme colds as it was in the middle of winter. I’d never experienced snow like this. It snowed in Louisiana the day I was born, and I remember it snowing one other time when I was young. In Denver, the snow was wet and I could roll a snowball in the snow until it was a boulder my size. I could sculpt dragons in the snow. This is my only good memory.
I had to cross an impressive highway every morning and I was always late because I was scared of the traffic. We didn’t have traffic like this in the small town I was from. I had to ride the bus and the kids would set off mace bombs. That wasn’t pleasant at all. I went from little country school houses to schools with security guards and classes so big that the teachers couldn’t control the students. I was terrified and tormented by the hardened children of Denver. When not at school, I was alone. Loneliness is crushing. When my new cousin-in-law moved in downstairs, I wasn’t alone anymore, but I traded loneliness for sexual abuse. I tried to fight him off. I cried and yelled “NO!” but no one heard me… or didn’t care.
The day before we left, I approached my only friend to tell him goodbye, but I didn’t get a chance to. He said that he couldn’t be around me anymore because the other kids were harassing him for being my friend. I was hurt and what was the point of telling him I was leaving. I let him walk away and I never saw him again. I just disappeared and, sometimes, I wonder if he thinks about me. Probably not.
As an adult, my husband and I made a trip up to Boulder Colorado and we had a lot of fun. The air was so thin and it was hard to breath. I don’t remember the air being so thin when I was little. However, the majority of the experience was pleasant. I loved the trains and the mountains. It’s a beautiful place but I can’t imagine raising my children in a place that I remembered to be so brutal. The only thing I actually missed about that place was the snow.
When I was twelve, we moved to Michigan. I had troubles there to, but at least there was a mix of good and bad experiences. I had friends and we were back to that small town environment again. There was a sense of relief, along with the fear of yet another new place. I was still very cajun in culture and Michigan was very different. I’ve talked about my teen years and related experiences before, so I won’t rehash them here. After spending all of my teen years in Michigan, I could say this and Louisiana equally hold the title as my “hometown”. I view a “hometown” as the place (or places in this case) where you grew up.
I run away to Ohio to be with my now husband were we lived for four years. While Michigan and Ohio are relatively similar, I experienced bigger city living. A whole new world opened up as I entered adult life. I came to love and prefer big cities to that of the smaller ones. Still, we went through a lot of misery here too, which you can find stories of in past posts. When we ran away from Ohio, we left with a bad taste in our mouths. I had a serious hatred for the north. The people there didn’t give a shit about me.
When we got to Oklahoma, the people were friendly. They cared. Strangers have done wonderful things for us. I missed that southern hospitality. It’s a real thing. We built up ourselves and our lives and Oklahoma will always have a warm place in my heart. I dislike the heat, I miss normal brown dirt, I miss snow (we get ice and snow doesn’t happen often), and I miss the vibrant wilderness. Sure, there’s some wildlife here and there is some beauty in the red dirt, but it’s not like Louisiana, Michigan, or Colorado.
One of the things I loved about Ohio was the raves and night life. Oklahoma doesn’t have that. In fact, Oklahoma is very conservative and not even close to matching our political or religious views. Considering how well our careers are going, we’ve discussed a 5 year plan to get us to Portland. Portland is closer to my husband’s family (whom we don’t know well) and it’s more in line with our views and personal cultures. It’s beautiful there. They have the rain, the snow, and the wilderness that I miss. I feel like I’d be very happy there. Yet, I’ll miss Oklahoma. As much as I never wanted to come here, it’s become one of the best experiences of our lives. We built a life here. It’s home.