Sometimes, living in a hometown your whole life can become routine and boring. Luckily, my imagination can turn any street, block, or event into a journey into another world. So join me on an adventure in my hometown.
Morning chill, fireplace filled with logs, the first flames of fall flicker against morning yawns of sleepy eyes and hands warmed round cups of hot cocoa or roasted brew of coffee. Kids bundle up a bit, pulling out sweatshirt and sweaters, thicker socks, racing out the door for a morning football game. Friends join the line of spectators watching each other’s kids race along the field, screams fill the air as the spirit of community cheers one another for a touchdown. Starbucks lines and Main Street Coffee “Nine Am Ers” lounge in wing backs discussing the latest political pull by our leaders that be. Moms in yoga pants wander in holding hands of cherry cheeked toddlers, perusing the many goodies offered by Mary Anne Wilkes’s eclectic eye for combining varied delights for home styling bliss.
Last eve spent driving about in open-aired comfort of another era’s jeep, hands entwined beneath a star lit sky. Visiting friends of old and new. Seeing my high school classmate, Nikki Varner, whose parent’s share much of shaping my history in their impact on moments in my life. Remembering her mother as 7 ft. tall in my 1st grade mind. I attended Will Rogers Elementary. She was our P.E. coach,
She scared the hell out of me.
Wearing her delicately framed gold-rimmed aviator style glasses, typically a black shirt or tank, and kind of greyish sage shorts, with a tightly pulled bun…she dressed the part of seriousness about our health.
Did I mention she scared the hell out of me.
She also was stunning. She made us run to the fence and back before we ever got to choose our activity for the class. We had this see-saw-ish thing that went round and it took both people’s foot power to make it twirl fast. Tadashi Lewis and I both wanted that device.
Tadashi was (is) faster.
Luckily, she was also nice enough to share turns.
Her father, Coach Varner, would regale us with life lessons told with gleaming laughter, but well-crafted and intelligent in his bare bones observation of how whatever you were doing would turn out. And he got your attention if you didn’t “get right” fast. To this day, I think we have lost a lot in our ability to maintain a degree of order by having a few teachers who could and would bust your butt.
My dad was one of those too…and many an adult in Ardmore has let me know how one butt busting rerouted them in their decision making in a significantly awakening way.
I remember her parents caring about us. And yes, years later, when as an adult, I ran into her mother, I was shocked to discover she is not 7 foot tall.
Small towns can bring you this…those memories of sharing the years of you, learning to be whoever you are.
And sometimes small town memories reconnect you with moments when Friday nights meant smiles and cheering, the smell of hot dogs and cheesy nachos in red striped paper-like containers, the orange yellow goodness dripped across your cardinal red shirt. When fields along the highway were places to ease your car into, the darkened excitement enhanced by music, a musicians words heightening a first kiss. When dating meant going steady, of meeting your parents and having watchful eyes about town…knowing your parents had friends everywhere. Knowing the town helped raise each other when parents weren’t around.
Remembering when Facebook wasn’t how you “met up”…instead anticipating the day you could sit in a car…if you were lucky you had an older sibling and a parent who wanted you to tag along, being told to “keep an eye on them”. You might have had to sit in the back seat, face squirming to see out the window, peering into windows of shiny and new or rusty and slightly dented, but all freedom. Slow car moving moments of shouting hello or coolly waving, a barely raising of fingers to let another know you noticed them. Of speakers gently bouncing the boom of Beastie Boys, Prince, Depeche Mode and the Cure, Ice Cube or “I Need Love”, Frankie goes to Hollywood, or Ozzie, a touch of AC/DC…maybe you were the era of “Super Freak” or “Hotel California”. Does Elvis make you shiver? Or do you go further back, swaying a bit to Frank Sinatra’s croon while Nine Simone’s smoky martini voice lulled your eve.
Of gathering in the parking lot of Montgomery Ward Mall, looking across the road and knowing breakfast would be at The Tower, with D’ Allen Wint. And years later, wondering if Buddy would notice
if you pretended to be 21. Thinking the coolest thing ever was when he stuck an airplane section in his restaurant, Budro’s.
He busted us every time.
Of Spirit Day at the mall. Of fall mums made at “Stephanies”, “Dodsons” and “Gary’s”. Of hoping for snow…
But back to last eve…
We finished our night savoring the special at “Red Dirt” a blackened catfish topped with a browned butter style crawfish sauce, a hint of heat hidden in each bite. Wes Jeans tickled memories of another time from our minds…folks smiled and leaned back a bit, savoring the journey. Creating an eve of cold beer and a cool breeze against an Oklahoma sunset.
Just another Friday night…in your hometown.