Touring a metro area that I called home for nearly a decade seemed a little surreal to me, especially with a growing baby bump and a toddler in tow. I commuted back and forth from the City to Norman, 70 miles a day at my claims adjuster job in what I can only refer to as my ‘old life’.
I worked hard. I still work hard, but I don’t have a paycheck to reflect that every two weeks. Visiting OKC reminded me of the career and young adult life I left behind a couple of years ago. I appreciated the work experience I gained, but I’m happy as an entrepreneur and housewife. On days that I’m bored and cooped up in our on-post housing in Alaska, I remind myself that it could be worse — I could be sitting in my cubicle in OKC, dealing with unhappy insureds, with only a long commute home and a cold meal to look forward to. I spent those days counting down until the weekend when I could have brunch with friends, or until the next payday. Now I’m watching Margot grow up little by little everyday while her little brother tosses and turns in my belly. It’s been so much more rewarding than the insurance workflow I was previously overwhelmed by.
It seems that even while I’ve been away, making major changes in my life over the last two years, Oklahoma has remained the same. Sure, there are a few I-35 improvements, new restaurants, and expanding suburbs, but the landscape hasn’t changed much overall. The scars from the Oklahoma City Bombing remain, although healed in part by a spectacular memorial site. The University of Oklahoma in Norman retains its Cherokee Gothic integrity, even while enduring its decadent student housing expansion. And the downtown area is still under construction — a metropolitan anomaly that is not unique to Oklahoma.
The Arts Festival was more of a people-watching event for me, since Oklahomans wore their Sunday best everywhere. Where were the Chacos? Where were the zip-away hiking pants and gawky gardening hats that I’m used to seeing in the Pacific Northwest? It was a deviation from my new norm, to say the least.
It only took 12 years since moving to, and moving away from Oklahoma to finally visit the OKC Zoo. I guess I was just waiting until I had a toddler of my own to make it more fun. Margot enjoyed waving and playing peek-a-boo with the animals in their exhibits. It was a fairly one-sided engagement for her, since the animals didn’t wave back. It was a sensory treat for her.
Margot got an even better look at the animals near her Great-uncle Sam’s house on the outskirts of Oklahoma City. She ‘helped’ feed the goats, horse and donkey that lived on farms close by. Outside of the zoo, she’s saw her farm animal friends from books in real life. She gleefully waved to them as well.
Traveling with a one-year-old went better than expected; she kept the screaming to a minimum onboard the aircrafts, and back on solid ground, she happily played ‘chase’ and ‘peek-a-boo’ with her Aunts and Grandparents — she even got to meet the Great-aunts who have welcomed her so warmly since her birth. I speculate she is receiving special treatment from Isaac’s maternal side of the family because Margot is the first great-grandchild. She is the changing of the guard, so to speak.
My side of the family is ever-booming in population, so much so that I have aunts and uncles younger than me, and my grandparents have grandchildren older than me. The Sanchez and Shamblin generations know no cyclical bounds in my neck of the family tree.
Visiting to the lower-48 was totally necessary, really fun, and a little too short lived. Next time we’re up for traveling again, we may not be ‘up’ for traveling again! Woodrow Paul will be here, yay!, and Margot will be old enough for us to purchase her plane ticket…grumble.
Oh, looks like you caught that — Woody is what we’re naming our boy. We think it embodies his Okie roots well, while still nodding dutifully to his wooded Alaskan birthplace. We’ll meet our Creole-Mexican-Alaskan baby boy in September, when the leaves turn amber, and the air turns cold once again. Until then, we’ll stick close to Fairbanks.