Its always intriguing, as an adult with adult eyes and understanding, to return to the places associated with your childhood. After landing in Tulsa, OK, Thursday night, immediately greeted by that notorious Oklahoma wind, I now knew why it was not only fashionable but a necessity to have a teased, hair-spray laden coif when living here. Not only was hairspray suddenly legal again, but things like saying Yall, talking to people you dont know, and waiting an extra thirty seconds to honk a horn at someone stopped at green light, were no longer taboo. Within twenty minutes of my arrival, I remembered why I loved living here, and wondered why I was in such a rush to leave.
I didnt land until midnight, but that didnt stop me from driving through Taco Bueno to get a party burrito for the bargain price of fifty nine cents and a small Big Red soda with which to wash down the Mexican fast food goodness. Sitting in my rental car, savoring a burrito that can be eaten in literally three bites, two if you are really hungry, I remembered the many off campus lunches at Putnam City North High School in Oklahoma City. Once the lunch bell rang, all students with driving privileges rushed to their cars so that they could make the most of that forty minute lunch. Time Out, Taco Bueno or Mazzios were usually the places of choice, but for me and my friends, Taco Bueno usually won. Forty minutes with a good friend, a good burrito, and Big Red Soda somehow made the ominous reality that the school day was only half over less painful.
The next morning, the fact that I was still full from my Taco Bueno indulgence from the night before forced me to skip breakfast and to enjoy only a Starbucks coffee, the universal food that links us all together whether we say Yall, Howdy, or a fully enunciated Hello to greet someone. The drive down the Broken Arrow Expressway could now begin. Coffee in hand and radio up, I began my drive, only stopping once to ask directions from a semi-toothless man at a gas station. Theres something comforting about being around people who dont care if their coffee is Starbucks, and they proudly and shamelessly present their pinkish red gums when giving directions. Once again, Oklahoma exuded the Southern charm I forgot amidst all of my East coast civilizing.
The best part of my trip, hanging with my brother John, was about to ensue. After paying the bargain price of $1.50 for a thirty minute trip down a toll road, I had arrived at my destination. There was my brother, waiting with his caretaker. Without warning, I was gently pried from that place called Memory Lane and plopped into the present where my once young Bubby stood before me as a man with graying hair, strong stature, and deep voice. I wonder what I must look and sound like to him.
In no time at all, John and I were on the road returning to Tulsa and to Memory Lane. It wasnt long before John began to say Remember when mom .. or Remember how dad used to This made me realize how important it is to park our cars on Memory Lane more often; however, Memory Lane looks much better in the Spring than it does in the Winter. Its easy to remember the things that brought us sadness or disappointed us in the past, but how glorious it is to remember those times when the Winter is over and the Spring comes.
Since my mother passed, definitely a Winter on Memory Lane, memories, good and bad are the only things that I have to keep her alive in my heart. Sure, there are pictures, family that look remarkably similar to her, and even my own eyes and voice that are constant reminders that I am my mothers daughter. However, there is something powerful when you sit with someone else that shared those same memories. Somehow it makes those memories real and authentic where before you wondered if they were just a dream. Theres something comforting about someone else verifying your life, and bringing you back to the places that established your identity. My someone else was John, my brother. He and I both established that the twenty-three years we lived before moms passing did exist. Others may have chosen to forget those times, and many others may have never shared those times with us, but John and I will always have them and tuck them away in the hope chests of our hearts. Although they may get dimmer over time, at least we will have each other to light the street lamps on Memory Lane, and preserve the things that matter most in life.