Well, I’m here, I finally made it…I’m back in Oklahoma, a place I left nearly three years ago, after having lived here for nearly fifteen. I haven’t been gone long enough for the place to have changed much, other than a few businesses have come and gone, and one republican governor was replaced by another. There’s still road construction on I35, and OU football is kicking into gear and will soon replace everything else to become the dominant Saturday thing in the town I live in. There are some things I’m glad to see haven’t changed, such as the bus system, my favorite coffee shop, my favorite thrift store, and most importantly, the people I left behind here.
Last night, I had dinner with a small group of close friends to celebrate my return, as well as my upcoming birthday. I timed my move specifically because I wanted to be here to celebrate with them. At the end of the evening my best friend told me she was glad I was back because, “you belong with us.” That sense of love and belonging was probably the best gift she could have given me.
The last time I moved away from Oklahoma I took only what could fit in my friend’s compact car, which mainly consisted of books, clothes, and my cat. I’ve always been one to travel light, never having much attachment to things so much that I horded them (except books), so getting rid of things was not an issue for me. After my ex took what he wanted from our shared property (much of which he had brought into the marriage to begin with) I set about selling, giving away, or throwing away the rest. Going through the house and making multiple trips to the dumpster became, though tiring, also cathartic. It was visual and solid proof that I was starting over. Out with the old.
Moving back, I left Illinois with a few more things than I had arrived with, but not much more. Now I also had a desk, a side table, wall art, and a second cat. I am currently sitting in my one-bedroom apartment awaiting furniture to come from multiple sources, friends who have items they don’t need and are willing to give them to me so that I can finally put together a place that is mine. Multiple times, I’ve heard them say, “It’s not the best or the prettiest, but it’ll still work.” None of that bothers me. My only concern is if it fulfills the need. Does it light up? Can I sit on it? Can I stretch out and sleep on it? My friends have been generous beyond measure, and I couldn’t ask for better.
Speaking upon the items contained in his cabin near the pond and his lack of need for finer things, Thoreau said, “Indeed, the more you have of such things, the poorer you are…Pray, for what do we move ever but to get rid of our furniture, our exuviae; at last to go from this world to another newly furnished, and leave this to be burned.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden. (1854). Nearly one hundred and fifty years before Robert Lilienfeld was urging us all to Use Less Stuff, Thoreau literally wrote a first-person account of how to do just that. Though I’ve never read Lilienfeld’s book and I’ve just recently picked up Thoreau for the first time, despite having multiple degrees in English, I’ve always lived this way. I’m sure part of it harkens back to childhood and the excessive amount of moving around we did. When you move a lot you realize you don’t want to carry a lot. Also, I grew up in a family who was always below the poverty line, so I just never had a lot to begin with. I adapted. The thing that really changed as I grew up was that I could finally buy books, as books were a luxury my family couldn’t afford. But, for material things I’ve had little need of. Especially unnecessary things. I won’t spend money on something that doesn’t serve a purpose in my house. Other than a very few art pieces from local artists, I have no other decorations. I have several pictures of friends on display, as well as my parents. You will not find even one thing which could be considered a knick-knack in my home. I have a long-standing fatwa against them. Anyone who wishes to get me a gift and sees a knick-knack which makes them think of me is clearly no friend of mine.
So, I am starting yet another new journey, and I’m looking forward to wherever this road may lead. This time around, I won’t be alone on the road.
“I seem to have run in a great circle and met myself again on the starting line.” Jeanette Winterson, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit.