Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Days 3-4 in Oklahoma

After I checked out of the hotel on Saturday morning, I didn't have Wi-Fi until very late Sunday night when I checked back into the hotel near the airport- then, I wanted to write my final OK vacation blog from the Tulsa airport- but they charged $5.95 an hour for W-Fi. Ugh. My Cleveland layover you'll learn about in my next blog. And Monday I traveled all day and crashed and went right to work this morning and went on a shopping extravaganza after work- so ah, the final vacation post isn't happening until just.... about.... now.


So- Saturday, after I checked out almost an hour late, my friend DG called me- he wanted to meet up- I wanted to get to my cousin's by 6ish, and they all live about an hour and a half from Tulsa in various towns like Krebs and Haileyville. He had to run his daughter somewhere and said he'd call when he was done. So, in between I did some more memoir research. I drove to the Yacht Club Apartment Homes, the first place I lived in Tulsa- first staying with my Grandmother and Theresa, and then getting our own place in the same complex. I actually made a video of it to help with my memoir. I recorded myself on the walks I used to take. Then, I stopped at Sonic and had a Coney and a Cherry Limeade- my first one in 14 years. (The pic to the left is of DG and I-- he is also in that pic a few posts back from when I was in OK as a teenager!)

After my enjoyable lunch, I decided to do more gallavanting- wanted to walk around the Woodland Hills Mall in Tulsa-- my mom worked as a manager of a store in the food court for a while and I spent a lot of time there-- but the mall parking lot was an absolute zoo-- so I didn't go in. By then, DG had called and we decided to meet up for a beer at a place called The Fox & The Hound in Broken Arrow. It was great catching up with him! Like with J, he reminded me of things I forgot, I reminded him of things he forgot- we caught up about families and careers. My visit with him wasn't as long as with J's, but it was equally wonderful! He said something really pivotal about our teenage years selling newspapers: "Somehow we accidentally learned some morals." My memoir centers around this job and what it meant- he and I discussed how at the time it was just something to do, to earn some money and have some fun. As adults, he and I both look back and see how this job helped us be the hardworkers we both are today. Kind of neat about reuniting with these people I haven't seen since I was a kid and hearing how we were similarly affected and all consider the job one of the most important things in our lives.


I made one more stop at Quick Trip and hit my cousin's address on the GPS. I met my cousin Shawn and is girlfriend Rachel at her parent's Italian grocery (where they live in the above apartment)-- it's a 100-year-old building and just adorable. He made an kick-ass lasagna with fresh veggies and herbs from the garden and a kick-ass bruschetta-- oh my good. Amazing. We all ate dinner at my cousin Eli's groovy pad, which was walking distance from Shawn's. My Uncle Pat; my cousin Zack and his wife and daughter, Tina and Ember; my cousin Michael, Shawn & Rachel and her son Matteo, and a few friends enjoyed the awesome dinner and some drinks. After dinner, me and Pat went to get some beer and we pretty much partied into the night at Eli's- went to a bar to see a band- hung out again until about 3-4am. Eli has lots of friends and neighbors so throughout the night, I got to meet of ton of locals passing in and out of the house. We took lots of pics, videos and laughed the light away. It was incredible to see everyone again- we had one killer time. (Picture- Eli, Michael, Shawn, Me, Tina holding Ember, Zack and Pat in front.)
The next morning, we didn't get up until about 11am-- we all got ready and went up the mountain to hang out at Pat's (and where all the boys grew up) and hung out, played Balderdash and chatted. We decided to head back into town-- picked up some pizza and this time headed to Zack and Tina's house for dinner. Tina made an awesome salad and pulled out some of her homemade bread and butter pickles- awesome. All of a sudden it was almost 8pm- I decided to head back to Tulsa to get a hotel by the airport so I didn't miss my flight. (Picture- Their friend Gates, Rachel, Shawn, Friend Kyle, me, and Eli an an awesome Beatles shirt).

Taking this trip was the best idea I've had in a long time. Just being in Tulsa brought back a flood of memories. As I walked various spots around town, I could feel emotions-- like my mind/body knew something important happened at that very place. I tried to take in everything- even smells and sounds. The hardest part about writing a memoir is the details- not just the little details about people and places from long ago, but also the feelings and how I felt that long ago. This trip really helped me. I took lots of notes. I even did some research that I didn't think I'd do.

Aside from the memoir research, being back with most of my cousins (there is only one I didn't get to see of the Duffy pack- he's in NJ) was awesome. All of them now have their own places, and in some cases, their own families. I grew up with these boys at the most important part of our lives I think- the childhood years. It's with them that I learned how to be one of the boys, a trait I think I've had since I was very young. They've all done some incredible things in their lives-- many have explored a lot of the globe- and they have such strong family values yet live simple, humble lives-- I often wish we saw each other more. Love them so much!! But I'll tell ya what- even though we don't see each other very often, when we get together, we instantly connect like we just saw each other yesterday and we always stay up until dawn together- whether it's partying (now that we're older), playing games or watching the Goonies over and over again.

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