I loved the river in Tulsa. I ran there, played there, ate there, drank there, danced there, laughed there, cried there, worked there, prayed there. It was where I set myself free, and it was where I learned to breathe.
I grieved the loss of the river when I moved to Owasso. The necessity of moving pulled me like the river, rushing me forward, not because I wanted to go, but because I was being carried there. I felt uneasy with foreboding, but confident I was where I needed to be and content with whatever lesson was to come. Looking back, I know now that I was moved to a safe and temple space to have my surgeries and bury my mother and father. I am grateful, and know that my river in Owasso was made of my tears.
There were parks there, places I could run in circles. Nature did not abandon me, but I was so very contained. Sometimes, like my apple tree that has burst through its container, I pushed at the walls. Sometimes I gasped for air and longed for open spaces. That seems ironic for landing in a farm town after leaving the city.
I see clearly, though, that it was exactly what I needed for that time in my life, that time when I was in recovery, when my broken skull was healing, when my cells fought off the threat of cancer, while my parents died. I needed that safe, small place. I needed to be held there, like a hug, and that’s how my friends loved me there.
Bartlesville came to me slowly, careful not to spook me. Bartlesville knew I was wounded, and to wait for me to come without pushing ahead to invade me. Bartlesville wooed me, and reminded me I would not always be wounded. Bartlesville was a shift for me, lifting me out of grief and back into Spring. Bartlesville gave me back my wings and let me fly. Free.
Bartlesville has pathfinder. It weaves through the city like a river, long trails that connect all the city parks, wandering past ponds and through the woods and under bridges and along babbling creeks that sing to my new ears a harmony only me and the birds can hear.
I can start at my office, or at home, or at the daycare, or at a park, or the garden store, or downtown, and go anywhere on the trails. I can start anywhere and walk for a mile, or two, or five, or ten, or twenty. I can take a short break in my day, relax in the evening, or wake with the sunrise. I reach with my arms stretched out wide, breathing in the fresh air and blowing kisses to the trees as they bend to greet me.
There is something here that is me, that has brought me home, that has found me, that grounds me, that has brought me here to the other side of where I used to be.
There is something here, in feeling my feet touch the earth, and the wind in my hair, and the sparkle of water in my eyes, and my ears filled with the whispers of trees and delight of ducks and songs of birds and scampering of squirrels – there is something.
It connects me to my Mother, who rolls this earth to care for me, my Brother who made it for me, my Parents who created us all.
It connects me to me.