Nothing dims these stars

  • Aperture: f/5.6
  • Focal Length: 105mm
  • ISO: 800
  • Shutter: 1/5 sec
  • Camera: NIKON D80

Claremore, Oklahoma

I had no way of knowing when I crossed the Oklahoma state line that it would change my life, but it did. I lost myself in Oklahoma and found a stronger girl than I’d ever seen. The rugged timelessness of rolling hills, the endless stretches of long straight roads headed everywhere and nowhere, spoke to spirit and demanded recognition. And I embraced that calling as I’ve embraced few things in my life.

Oklahoma was wild and free. Mustangs roaming century-old canyons. Sweat-soaked, mud-caked cowboys fastening saddles with rough, brown hands and grim determination. The thundering beat of cattle being driven between the wide posts of Stockyards City. The lonesome call of a hawk across a windswept prairie.

I fell in love with Oklahoma, and I fell in love with myself. I saw a hard glitter in my eyes, a strong will, and a fierce fire. I saw the girl I would become; I saw the girl I wanted to be. It came in a rush, a dark wind pouring through me and taking my breath away. It crept over me slowly, a blood-soaked tide permeating my sinews and seeping into my veins.

Oklahoma taught me to believe in myself. To take care of myself. To fight for what I wanted. To fight for my life. Oklahoma shaped the novel I work on daily. It inspired the cowboy hat that rests on my desk. It stirred the fascination I now hold for the Old West that lies within each of us. Oklahoma changed my life.

My thoughts often return to the places I visited — Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Claremore — and I’m surprised to find a deep pleasure coursing when I remember this wild, lonely state. Some days, I’d give anything just to be back in Oklahoma again. I’d book a room at the Oklahoma City La Quinta or the Stockyards Hotel. I’d fly there for the day, just to have lunch at Ron’s Hamburgers in Tulsa, home of the biggest, and best, cheeseburger I’ve ever eaten. I’d catch a rodeo or two. Go horseback riding and spend the night beneath the stars.

One day, I’ll go to Oklahoma again. But this time I’ll be a brand-new girl, ready to embrace all it has to offer.

Music: Car Crash by Matt Nathanson (lyrics)

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