When I decided to move to Tulsa, I had never even set foot in Oklahoma. I don’t think I’d even driven through it. It was time for me to leave Austin, that much was abundantly clear. I felt the urge to move on from Austin, where I’d lived for four years, been a stay at home mom, a divorcee and lost all the friends that I’d made, but oddly, I also felt the pull of this city, Tulsa, of which I’d only ever heard in song lyrics. George Straight. Tulsa time. That sort of thing.
I have a dear friend in Tulsa, with a kiddo Liam’s age, with a new creative space building in the works. And that was enough. At the point I made the decision, a hot July morning, over eggs in a good friend’s kitchen, that was enough. I texted her the “news.” We squealed through cyberspace. I went up that weekend looking for an apartment, and to see her. I didn’t even think about the town. I was nervous, but felt utterly comfortable with the idea of moving to this city I’d never been. I did not expect, anticipate or even consider, falling in love with it.
But Tulsa, it was love at first sight.
Now, I know my presence has been sporadic on this blog space over the summer. In past years, when I would drop off from writing, the guilt would plague me and I would actually prolong my return to writing, feeling pressured to say something. Not this time. This time, I’m too busy carving out my adult life for the first time. This time, I am not worried about what people think of me on the other end, that I’ve been a “bad blogger” or that I’ve lost readers because I don’t show up. Right now, in every way, I am putting my needs at the top of the list, and if writing here hasn’t happened….so what?
When the summer started, and I was still living in a toxic situation, I was too stressed to show up. I was focused on managing the physical effects of the stress: the nausea, the knots in my back from fitful nights on the couch. The tension like drowning when me, or my son, would make too much noise, or get up too early, or do anything else to incite their palpable irritation. I started packing my boxes before I knew where I was going. And then, I was free. With the help of an old friend, packed up and on the road in one morning. Tulsa bound. Almost immediately, after hauling my belongings into my one bedroom home, I fled the Oklahoma heat for the cooler temperatures of the Midwest. I spent delicious time in Springfield, I spent familiar time in Indiana, and I stepped into the project “Spark the Circle” that I’ve been growing in my mind’s eye for months. The first tender steps into what I hope will be a life-changing movement.
After almost a month away, I finally made it back to Tulsa. I noticed with curiosity that my body seemed to wake up, in anticipation, as the numbers diminished on the mile marker signs to my right. This town that I’d spent two days visiting, and two days unpacking in, was now pulling me as if we’d been magnetized. As if, impossibly, it was home. When I finally plopped my bags and weary body down on my air mattress (yep, that’s where we’re at these days. sleeping on an air mattress, but the space is mine, all mine) I exhaled a sigh of pure peace.
It’s been nearly three weeks since I got back, and to say it plainly, my life has transformed.
This life I’m carving out day-by-day, sometimes hour by hour. So many things have begun blooming since I arrived, and really settled in, that I hardly remember to eat (crackers and jelly do not a meal make!) much less write. I’m still wondering where the post office is, and I still have Texas plates, but my heart is here and I’ve never felt so much potential, and peace.
I organized and decorated my one bedroom apartment until it felt just like me (the me that is still reluctant, but willing to share visual space with Spiderman). I’ve shared space with someone for so long, I forgot what it was like to get to decorate utterly for myself (it’s going to be hard to go back). I now work 100% outside my home, in my friend’s business, The Creative Room – which is a creative co-working space in Tulsa for artists wanting to work outside their home. Not only is it an awesome place, where all sorts of live events occur, where all sorts of cool people work and visit daily, it’s in a newly revitalized district of the city, called the Pearl District, that is just now blooming and building identity. Every day I get to drive all of five minutes, park within steps of the front door, and look out and see that I am joining in on the very beginnings of something beautiful and important.
Inside the Creative Room, I have an art desk, and a business desk, which I barter the space for in exchange for business support for the Creative Room. I’m here all day, every day, putting hours in towards this space, and putting hours in towards my dreams. I have missed enough meals and had enough blood sugar crashes to learn very quickly that eating regularly and healthy will be the number one (no joke) factor in whether or not I succeed at my dreams in life. I’ve also learned that having a space full of creative individuals around me is a blessing…and a curse! Before I moved here I always worked from home and barely got anything done because I would do laundry, dishes and errands instead. Now I spend long working days outside the house and I’m more productive this month than I’ve been in the three years combined, but I also find entire days evaporating as meetings, planned and impromptu, take place, and ideas are thrown around and visions are created. Some days I get nothing on my own list done, and feel an actual adrenaline crash at the end of the day, from all of the brainstorming, thinking and emotional energy expended on this space and its emerging identity.
The up-side to that is that I may have stumbled into a huge set of strengths that I didn’t know I was sitting on. That I didn’t know other people desperately need, and will pay for. That I am thrilled, ecstatic and good at doing. And the cherry on top is getting to do this in a town I feel I fit into, and with a friend I love so much.
I’ve also found that my hobbies – my artistic endeavors – are growing and blooming with more ease and effortlessness. I’ve had a collaboration walk into my life, rather than forcing it. I’m getting to orchestrate a multi-discipline event that I’ll share spotlight with other artists in, with very little stress (except for the stress of agreeing to try live painting!). I’m getting article pitches accepted, and coming up with more and more ideas of things I’d love to write about, as well as big ol’ business plans and work that I’ve dreamt of for years and am now bringing to life (which includes my first ever website + e-course!!).
Speaking of writing, just like I felt pulled to this city, when it was time, I feel the call of my writing emerging from its slumber. Just like I notice the depth of familiarity in my bones, feeling at home in this place with little rational explanation, I know that writing is my deepest vein, my strongest identifier, and my home. It just is, without explanation, and I’m grateful for the gift. And I’m grateful for this life.