When I first moved from Oklahoma to Boston people used to say, “Where are you from?” I had no accent, so there must have been something else giving me away.Maybe it was my overuse of turtlenecks or the way I would give a full answer to questions like, “How are you?”
Maybe it was the fact that I would buy so many homeless people lunch, or that I made eye contact on elevators. Maybe it was the time I told those coworkers that I wasn’t going to ask for a raise, rather I’d just work really, really hard and someone would notice. Or the time I declared, in that same office, that I would never, ever pay $9 for ONE pair of underwear.
Or maybe it was the way I would say “Sorry!” every time I bumped into someone on Boylston Street.
People don’t ask me where I am from anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I love love love Boston to the bottom of my heart, but I get sad when I think about how much Okie I must have lost. There is something amazing about that state that shines without mountains, or oceanfront, or big cities, or national landmarks, or even a good bagel. Oklahoma is its people. People who are strong, honest, friendly, caring and connected. People who love deeply, give generously, laugh heartily and stand bravely in the face of life changing storms that give only minutes warning.
These days, fewer people ask me where I’m from, but I’m always ready to say I’m from Oklahoma. (Those of you who have seen my signature meeting introduction know this all too well.) I’m proud to be a Bostonian, but I’m just as proud to be an Okie. And after this horrific week, I’m determined to let the Okie in me out more than ever.
As I started to write this in a doctor’s waiting room this morning, a man was sitting across the room with a prosthetic leg and a Boston Strong shirt. The Okie in me wanted to go to him and ask him if he was a victim of the bombings, and thank him for being strong enough to carry on. The Bostonian in me wanted to give him space. Looking back, I wish I had listened a little harder to the Okie. And next time I will. Because I know there is a whole lot of Okie left in here. I mean, I will NEVER buy $9 underwear.
Please consider using this link to make the kind of donation that feels right to you, and help support some really amazing people.http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/05/20/18381508-how-to-help-oklahoma-tornado-victims?lite
(This is decidedly longer than my usual posts. There was just too much to say this week.)