Whenever I tell people I grew up in Oklahoma, I get one of several reactions:
- "You don't have an accent..."
- "Like the musical!"
- Insert random line from said musical right here.
- "Wow, do you know _______?"
- "I'm sorry."
When I end up sharing my story of where I'm from, I think people get this huge romantic sprawl of a tale in their head and then attach it to my life, like I'm a country bumpkin who made good and somehow fought his way to civilization through the powers of higher education. The truth is closer to: Parents got divorced my junior year of high school, moved with dad to Evanston, Illinois, went to school close by, ended up in New York through the dumb luck that is Monster.com/college employment fairs.
I sort of pride myself on being a stealth Oklahoman. Unless you ask, there's not a lot about me that screams it. My secret fantasy is that I hide it because I'm certain it would be a huge mark against me if people could pick it up. I picture it as a skeleton in my closet. I secretly think it makes me more interesting and heroic, the same way that movies make closeted homosexuals or other marginalized folk kind of noble. But it's not so. Still, I like that I have this one little spot of weirdness that makes me a little different, even if I look just like the next guy in the next cubicle.
The secret within a secret is that I am almost certain that I'm kidding myself here. I don't know what I'm doing in this city. I sit in bed at night and stare at my ceiling fan and I wonder what would happen if I would scream at the top of my lungs. One of these days it's totally going to happen.
The secret within a secret within a secret is that I'm pretty sure that one of these days I'm going to say "Fuck It" and pack my bags and head back to Oklahoma. There are complications to that, but I don't really think about those. I just want to go home.
I remember reading vampire stories when I was a kid, and a part of the whole mythology is that vampires have to carry the dirt of their homelands with them, in their coffin, or they whither and die. I'm not a superstitious guy, but I can relate.
I feel completely detached from where I grew up and sometimes that scares the crap out of me and sometimes I don't even care. And then I think about that, and it scares the crap out of me even more.