There’s no need to explain myself anymore. You get it. I’ve accepted my judgement of these people and their states and turned into something productive instead of tucking it away deep down inside. This way, I can vent to you about how Mullet-y, ignorant and beautiful states can be, and not end up harboring an unhealthy disdain for any state (except Florida, which will remain my mortal enemy for as long as I live). If you need a refresher on what this series is about, please, feel free to revisit the first and second volumes in which I do a pretty good job of explaining the point and purpose of my cross country series.
After leaving Little Rock, AK we were excited to be heading out to the metropolis in the middle of nowhere that was Oklahoma City. I’ve heard great things about Oklahoma my entire life. I’m pretty sure that part of the Durrett clan stems from OK, so there’s that tie and it’s always seemed like a majestic land filled with American and Native American history. Needless to say, I was excited to get to see what the whole state was about at a glance.
Crossing the border into Oklahoma from Arkansas was pretty static UNTIL on the horizon stood approximately 20 teepees. They were magnificent and brought to life a part of my childhood that I hadn’t revisited in a long time. As we got closer they became kitsch and touristy, but I’m glad I got to feel the childhood awe at least for a bit. The landscape there looked exactly like Arkansas’ until we got close to OKC where became the way that I had always imagined Oklahoma to be – dusty, red and wide open.
Oklahoma City is a funny kind of city. Emily described it best when she said to me from the passenger seat, “Oklahoma City is the prettiest girl at the ball, but that ball is in…well…it’s in Oklahoma.” The city market in Oklahoma is a bit limited, so after driving through nothing for a couple of hours we suddenly stumbled upon OKC. Being the only city for miles not only made it seem like a beaming metropolis, but gave Oklahoma City a very interesting brew of people. There are rural okies taking day trips to the city that are nice and just going about their day, there are OKC townies who are proud to be from their state’s flagship city, and the third kind of people are the Big City Folk Impersonators. These city folks have a chip on their shoulder that makes them feel like they have to prove to the rest of the country that OKC is actually the greatest city in the USA, and that LA and NYC can go right to hell. Their actions resemble how small town people THINK that people in New York and LA act, so that they too can be high class city people. I experienced this growing up in rural South Carolina too. When people were going to go visit New York or Atlanta they would gear up for it by putting on an emotional armor, so they could be as cold and inconsiderate as they imagined the city people to be. It feels a little bit like how the drag queens on Rupaul’s Drag Race act like how they think women act behind closed doors when they’re only with other women. It’s always a little over shot, and ends up just creating its own archetype like the Queen or the City People.
We encountered this especially when we went out to eat the night we arrived. We were all wearing our traveling clothes so we didn’t look spectacular, but we figured we could get away with looking more relaxed, because we were in the Midwest where people are supposed to be relaxed and not so concerned with material things. Our preconceived notions about these particular okies, however, were off, and in the restaurant we kept getting looks from the other diners because we were bringing down the whole joint with our shorts and TOMS look. This was especially ironic since the nice dress code in OKC seemed to be a polo tucked into Brett Favre Jeans and cowboy boots. The juxtaposition between the Oklahoma City Folk’s version of dressing up, and their capacity for judging us on ours gave me a good laugh. (Don’t worry, I fully realize the irony in this situation, and that I too, am doing the same thing that they were, but I’ve got the keyboard here so who’s side are you on?!)
There were, however, a lot of very nice people we encountered in the city. I especially liked the townies that were dressed up for the Redhawks game happening that night as they were the ones who originally gave me the feeling of, “Who cares what you wear?! You’re in f@#$% OKC!!” My favored townies seemed to all hang out in Bricktown at the bars and restaurants around the stadium. Bricktown was the old warehouse district for the city, but was recently renovated and turned into an awesome entertainment district. This become the home of my feeling revolution for OKC. There was so much character and pride in Bricktown that I couldn’t let the City Folk tarnish my feelings, and suddenly I had new hope for there being redeeming qualities of OKC.
The next day was spent seeing the Oklahoma City National Memorial and exploring the rest of the downtown area. They both were beautiful sights, and the city itself is full of history of which it and its residents are very proud. I love seeing cities that take pride in their own, and OKC’s is apparent not only in how they support the Thunder, but also in the way they memorialize those they’ve lost and those that have lent themselves to the betterment of the city.
When telling people about OKC after our full trip, I realized that I was, perhaps, being harsh about it. I think I probably harbored the being judged feelings too long, and they had festered a bit into a fair dislike of the city itself. When looking back on it through my current lens, though, Oklahoma City was the coolest city we had seen at this point in the trip; it was full of history, pride and a genuine desire to be one of the best cities that the US has to offer. I’m glad we made the stop, and I’m glad I got to see Oklahoma, which, still holds the same majestic air as it did before I rode through, but we made the right decision in continuing on to LA.
Next volume will cover Amarillo, TX and the Grand Canyon. (I’ll give you a hint; one was awesome and is currently shutdown, and the other one was way less awesome and probably should be shutdown.)
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