Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Knocking on Tulsa's Door: Excavating Memories

Wow. I can't believe I am headed to Tulsa, Oklahoma tomorrow after work. I'm packing light and prepared to walk, talk, interview, observe and finally, just visit. Most of all, I want to excavate memories. Some for the purpose of my memoir, some with my family.

14 years since I've been there. I've seen my Oklahoma aunt and uncle and cousins since I've moved, but always here in PA. I haven't seen or really heard from anyone I went to school or worked with in Tulsa since I was 16. Thanks to social networking, I've reconnected with one of my best Tulsa friends and coworkers and have been talking with for a few months, we'll call him JP. Aside from that, very recently I've connected with a few on Facebook- but many of them do not live in Tulsa anymore. And just this week, I found two more friends- one via the online white pages (GH) and then another from GH who passed along DTs (not me, haha, same initials) number. I wasn't sure where I would stay, but I finally decided to book a room in Tulsa for my first two nights this way I have wi-fi and a reference point while I am in town. I found a hotel a few blocks from where I used to live. This is great because I can walk around my old neighborhoods!! I am stoked.
J and I before a Little Texas concert at the Tulsa Fair in 1993 (?)

Now let's get back to GH. And let me preface this by saying this will be a rare "sentimental blog entry" for me.... GH was my boss when I sold newspapers door-to-door for the Tulsa World. My first boss and a HUGE part of my life. Can't give away all the details or else you'd have nothing to look forward to for my in-progress memoir. At any rate, a few years ago I watched The Secret. One part of that DVD really struck me- about gratitude for what others have done for you and how once you start to feel that and recognized that, positive things can come your way. So, that inspired me to write hand-written letters to several people who really inspired me and enouraged me in my life, or even some that did really big favors for me in the past. One of those letters went to GH- although I was never sure if it was the correct address.

I really didn't have business cards. There was a machine at the mall and we all made our own cards. I think for $1.00 you got four.

So- one of the first things he said when we began to talk last night was, "So, I got your letter." There's long stories involved, not for this blog, but he didn't respond to the letter back then. And that's okay- I wasn't looking for people to respond. Anyway, in my letter to him I mentioned the positive impact he had during a difficult time in my teenage years, and how to this day as an adult I used things he'd taught me. I really could go on, but this is a blog post and not a memoir chapter. At any rate, he said this to me: "Your letter meant the world to me."

When he said that, I kind of choked up. I can't imagine what it must be like to receive a letter out of nowhere from someone you mentored 14 years earlier saying how much they meant in your life and life choices. It must have been an amazing feeling. Furthermore, he explained that it was actually a tough time in his life and it reassured him. He and I then talked for nearly two hours-- not really much time to catch up for 15 years-- but nonetheless it was a cherished conversation-- he told me how I always had the desire to win, and had "the fight" inside me to be the best, to be unstoppable. Back then, it was selling newspaper subscriptions door-to-door, but its still something I have inside me. He recognized that when I was 13-15 and kept me motivated to always do my best. And when I do my best, to show me that I can still get better than my best. My industries have changed, but the fire that GH lit all those years ago still burns strong. He groomed me for success. I am completely happy with my life and where I've been and where I am and where I want to go. Were there bumps? Oh god yeah. But the spirit and heart GH dug out of (I always had it- just took someone to notice and pull it out) is what kept me kicking.

The newspaper crew, led by GH and then later by M. and the guys I worked with were my life, my family. That's why my memoir centers around them. That's why I am going to Tulsa. Here's a crew of them below from an overnight sales trip to Arkansas in 1994 or 1994-- is the one giving the peace sign and DT, who I will also see is the the right under him next to me and the redhead.

My classmates in my creative writing class have read my early drafts of my memoir but it has took a complete turn. I have a great mentor who is pushing me- like GH did all those years ago- and I look forward to sharing this story with everyone soon.

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