Jack and I spent nearly six years in Oklahoma, living in Thackerville, Ardmore and finally Marietta. The girls were born to us in Oklahoma. We were living in Oklahoma when 9-11 changed our world. And Oklahoma is where I learned to be me (for better or worse.) Oklahoma was home to some of the worst and the best years of our marriage.
Since I was (and am) not a good juggler, and because I consistently kept the whole, true picture of our fiscal quandary from Jack, financially we were always behind and getting progressively behinder. Jack worked steadily, but more and more it seemed his employers were asking him to do things he could not in good conscience do and eventually we found ourselves unemployed again, only this time with two small children and another on the way. By the time Jack received his ordination and beginning his dream-job of part-time children’s minister at Marietta’s FBC, we were so in debt that every ring of the phone and drop of the mail brought fear to my heart. Every trip to the bank became painful and, at the very end, shame kept me from interacting in the community much at all. Worst of all, my obsessive need to keep Jack ignorant of all this damaged not only our marriage, but also our public witness and credibility. By the time we left, I felt like we were sneaking out in the middle of the night with our tails tucked between our legs.
Add to that the perfectly normal chaos of small children and new babies and you can better understand the permanent dark circles under my eyes and the eight-year-old baby weight.
And yet I wouldn’t trade our years in Oklahoma for the world. Almost immediately (after the drugs kicked in) we fell into relationships that I expect will last a lifetime. In Oklahoma we found couples to share friendship with, individual men and women who became teachers, counselors and mentors to us and best of all families that embraced us and allowed us to become part of them. It was because of the support (sometimes literally,) guidance and love of these people, that mine and Jack’s marriage actually became stronger throughout these years instead of disintegrating around us.
Now, nearly eight years after leaving, I’ve learned to love Oklahoma simply because six of the most chaotic, terrifying, and wonderful years of my life took place there in the heat and the wet and the syncopation of helicopter blades. I miss you guys; call me!