Sunday, July 29, 2007

Learning to breathe again

I'm not even sure where to start with things here, which is the primary reason I haven't updated my blog in over a week. As I said in my previous post, my trip was bittersweet. We finally met my sons' birth brother, the boy we've tried for almost two years to adopt ourselves and it just wouldn't happen. One of those things where our hearts were in the right place, but it wasn't in God's plan. I'm happy for his birth family and know he's where he needs to be, but there's a small part of me that desperately wishes he could be with his brothers.

After Kansas we headed down to Oklahoma. It was strange. I felt lost in my hometown. Things were familiarly unfamiliar. Does that make any kind of sense? Every once in a while I'd get a flash of something and go "oooh, I remember that", and ten seconds later I was lost again. I think the hardest part was the heaviness that still weighs down Oklahoma City, even twelve years after the bombing. It took me days of feeling pretty low to finally figure out the sadness was coming from outside of me, not within. I was living in a wounded city, a place that had taken a major blow and still had the scar to prove it.

We visited the bombing site one day and I wish I'd been able to spend more time there to process it all, if that's even possible. There were beautiful glass and metal chairs with the names of each of the victims etched in them. They seemed to stretch on forever, some large and some small and it nearly broke my heart to see and fully realize the price that city had paid. The price those families had paid. It seemed so unfair that I was able to go home and relive my childhood when they would never see another day. I've never been so close to violence like that and it has affected me profoundly. I find things that were so important before to be suddenly very trivial and I'm not sure how to resolve the issues it has brought up. I'll find my answers in time, I hope - some of them at least - but I will carry those feelings with me for a lifetime.

There were a few bright spots toward the end of the trip. I spent an entire day all by myself in the small town of Noble where I grew up. That place was very familiar. It finally felt like I'd come home. I took about four hundred pictures while there. I literally drove down the street with my camera out the window snapping pictures as fast as I could. I stopped at a local restaurant for some lunch and made a few phone calls, one of which was to my old friend Ursula. We were best friends from fourth through the beginning of eighth grade. We set up a time to get together with our families the next day for dinner and talked a little about how strange it was to be back after twenty-three years. Well, when I finished eating lunch, I went to pay and the waitress told me the lady sitting in the booth behind me had paid for my lunch. Evidently she wanted to welcome me home in her own sweet, southern way. It made my day and the rest of the trip went well.

That's the Oklahoma I remember. That one simple act resolved the differences between the past and the present and I finally felt at home. It was amazing. Seeing Ursula the next day and meeting her wonderful son was just the icing on the cake. It was almost as if we'd never been apart. I love those kinds of friends. They are so few and precious.

I'm adjusting to home life again, but still carrying the weight of realization that hit me there, though I did finally start to get some inspiration on my stories again. Hopefully something will pan out here soon. If I can just slow down enough to get a breath, maybe I can write again. Here's hoping!

Quote for the Day: "There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you." - Z.N. Hurston


jenica said...

wow karen, you've written the unwritable with such grace. i'm glad for your trip, bittersweet chocolate has always been my favorite. it's obvious that the trip brought up so many sweet memories and so many difficult emotions simultaneously. you'll work it out...

G. Parker said...

What a special memory. Makings of a story within itself... It's tragic how so many have already forgotten Oklahoma, just as they have forgotten 9/11. It never goes away for those close to it. It's too bad the rest of the nation doesn't see it every day. Great blog.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Thank you for this beautiful blog, Karen. You've really touched me.

Karen Hoover said...

Jenica - you hit it on the head. It was a little bit of everything and has taken a while to process. It will definitely become a more powerful memory for the contrast.

g.parker - I hadn't thought of turning it into a story. I'm not sure that I could. Maybe in the future I can pull something out of there when it's had time to cool down a bit. Thanks for the compliment.

Tristi - You just made my day. Thank you for your kind words.