We drove to Oklahoma, heading southeast through Colorado, then driving straight through the length of the Oklahoma Panhandle. The place where my husband grew up.
The panhandle was a strip of land not claimed by Texas, Kansas or Colorado Territory in the latter half of the 1800's. Because of this, it's official name was 'Public Land Strip', was also known as 'Cimarron Territory' by the squatters who settled there without permit, but was most commonly known as 'No Man's Land.' In 1890, it was assigned to the newly formed Oklahoma Territory and became part of that state.
The Cimarron River runs through here, as well as the Beaver River. The Man of the House is very familiar with both. As a boy, he hunted, camped, fished and trapped along their banks.
I met and married my husband in Oregon. I've known for 22 years that he has often felt like a fish out of water. It's difficult to move to new areas, have to learn the lay of the land and find new favorite fishing, camping and hunting spots. Not only that, but having moved quite a bit in my adult life, I know that you always leave some of yourself behind. When you move from your childhood home, you leave A LOT of yourself behind.
We had two destinations in Oklahoma. First, to visit his childhood hometown and see the property where he grew up. It's in the process of being auctioned off and he knew he may not have another opportunity. Second, to visit his father's home, go through anything left on the property and have the paperwork signed for it to be rented out. (His father passed away almost 2 years ago.)
It was a bittersweet trip. So many memories- and it was healing, I think, for him to relate stories that happened in various spots- and so many regrets and wishes for the past.
After his parents divorced, the family left their homestead, never to return. It sat, abandoned for almost 25 years. A place haunted by old memories and the family that once lived there. He had been back to the place three times previously, once with me, each time with mixed emotions. This time was no different- although I think he laughed more.
He showed me the pile of sheet metal his dad had assigned him to stack as a boy-
And his old bike, still lying on the property.
The hay they had baled their last summer there- still in a slowly composting pile.
I think this time, for him, the place had lost a lot of those frozen-in-time memories.
We also drove around town, visiting his favorite spots- pointing out friends' homes, his old school, the park where he played, etc. We went into the little market where he often rode his bike to meet friends, drink sodas and play arcade games. He kept grinning in amazement that here he was, standing in these very spots with his wife.
We also drove to the town cemetery. He wanted to visit the grave of a little girl he had loved. Her parents were friends with his and he had babysat her. She was beautiful and charming and the first baby/child that he had ever connected with, ever made him want to have children someday.
She was only five years old when she died suddenly of a brain aneurysm.
While there, he was shocked to find so many graves of those he knew; parents and grandparents of his friends, even kids he had grown up with.
He was much too aware of the passing of time.
It seemed fitting, somehow, that the sun was setting as we said our goodbyes there.
We drove through the Oklahoma evening; The Man of the House telling me stories as I watched the stars through the truck window.
The next day was spent at his dad's place. We visited with the lovely neighbors and spent 9 solid hours going through every last thing.
I had to chuckle when I found an old first aid kit of his dad's- it was just so him:
Those nine hours were exhausting- not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. Everything had a memory attached to his father.
We combed through every last thing, signed papers in the dark with the new renters, and left- coated from head to foot in red Oklahoma dust.
Tiredly, we drove to Amarillo, Texas to stay for the night. We arrived, dusted ourselves off as best we could, then treated ourselves to the Big Texan for dinner- before they closed for the night.
Got the limo ride and all. : )
I was too tired to eat- and only ordered a salad. Later, feeling sorry for me I think, he had me order a root beer float.
Neither of us were able to finish our meal- exhaustion had set in.
But it was good!
It was fulfilling to spend that time together- just the two of us on a trip, enjoying each other's company and supporting him while he let the memories wash through. I think a lot more of that old wound has healed and he's finally gaining some peace.
Content copyright © 2011 by Jessa at Graceful Landing