I grew up in P-town. That's not it's real name, of course, but that's what I call it. It's a very small town in northeast Oklahoma. For me, there's no other place like it. As I sit down to write this, I am absolutely overwhelmed by all of the thoughts and feelings that came rushing into my mind. I honestly don't even know where to begin. I had no idea how much a part of me this crazy place really was until I started to try to explain it to those of you who haven't been there. I can tell that this will not be my only post about P-town. I would venture to guess that it's exactly like every other small town in rural Oklahoma. The names and faces change, but the overall experience is the same. For those of you who don't have this experience, I will try to break it down for you in as few words as possible.
P-town is backroading and beer drinking. It's knowing everybody and their business, and seeing someone you know everywhere you go. It's walking to school and going home for lunch every day. It's wearing your cheerleading uniform to school on Football Fridays and finding someone old enough to buy you beer after the game. Or homecoming ceremonies that rival Princess Di's wedding. It's scheduling a party at the Third Pole: (literally the third telephone pole on a backroad). Playing Kick-the-Can and other night games until your parents shouted out the front door (even if you weren't in the yard, you heard them) to come in. It's getting on your bike after school and being free until dinnertime, when your whole family sat down together to a home cooked meal. It's having the football team (Dad was the head coach) over for cookies and film-watching on Thursday nights. Indian dances and Penquin Hell-Week in the summer. Being outside all day long, never checking in with your mom once and still, she knew you were safe. Riding in the back of your dad's pickup. Going fishing. Building a bonfire out in a pasture and sitting on haybales (again, drinking beer...see a pattern?) with your friends. Sleeping on the trampoline in the backyard or toilet papering the neighborhood. It's gossip and backstabbing and rumors until you think you can't stand it anymore. It's wanting out so badly you can taste it, but then moving away and telling your friends about it as if it's the greatest place on earth.
Now I have kids and although I don't think I could live there anymore, I am so glad I get to give them a taste of this life. It's so different from the way they are growing up. They love the freedom and laid-backness (is that a word?) of it all. We are going to visit today and I don't know who is more excited...the kids or me. I love watching them experience a little bit of my childhood. It's even better the second time around.