I’m celebrating my 41st birthday today. And I’m doing it from Oklahoma. Yup, yesterday, I poured myself into one train, then another, then an airplane, then another, to arrive at Tulsa International Airport to find my parents waiting for me. Unfortunately, there was still an hour’s drive to my parent’s house—and I was pretty much bushed by then. Traveling is hard work.
But I woke up this morning in my hometown, just a short distance from the hospital where my mom and I spent some fairly eventful time 41 years ago.
As much as I’ve become attached to Philly, and I have, I love being from Oklahoma. It’s a cool place. Really! The drive south from Tulsa yesterday evening was gorgeous. Miraculously, it’s still green here—it has apparently been a rainy late summer—and there was lots of baled hay and happy-looking cattle in fields. The accents sounded right, too. I moved to Philly in 1996, but I’m still taken by surprise sometimes by what words sound like. Here, they sound different, of course, and in a way that sounds right to me. When an Oklahoman struck up a conversation on the plane ride from Dallas, she sounded country, and—somehow or other—I relaxed.
And as much as I hate to say it, men might even be handsomer here. To my eye, anyway. I’ve spent significant chunks of my adult life in Philly, New Orleans, northwest Ohio, and Oklahoma. In each of those places, it seemed to me that the men were just built differently. There were lots of fit, tall, clean-shaven, muscular farm boys (and grown-up farm boys, too) in Ohio. In New Orleans, my 5’7″ frame seemed a lot more normal. And in Philly, men frequently have a more obviously, um, ethnic look than anywhere I’ve lived before. (When I first moved to Philly, I’d be completely puzzled when someone asked me about my background. “No, I’m not Italian,” I’d say, once they explained their question. “I’m not Polish. I’m not Irish. I’m from the South. We stopped being ethnic a long time ago.”)
In the other places I’ve lived, it has taken me awhile to adjust my taste in men to the local flavors. (Recently, for instance, I realized that I’m now truly into Philly guys. Of course, that could just be Middle Age talking.) In Oklahoma, though, the guys have always just generally looked good to me. Whether they’re country ranchers, or Tulsa businessmen, or the Muscogee man who sat near me at the airport yesterday, I’m interested. I guess that’s not all that surprising; Oklahoma’s where I developed my Queer Country™ aesthetic.
Gosh, that was quite a digression. Anyway, so I’m in Oklahoma…. I don’t expect much fuss to be made over my 41st birthday. That’s just not the way my parents roll. I used to wish they’d make a bigger fuss, but I know better than to expect it. I will see my sister today, though, and there’s a fair chance I might get some birthday cake from her.
I probably won’t do any blogging for two or three days, so don’t worry about me. My family and I and going to head off on a little adventure in the Ozarks. (I still can’t believe I’m doing it.) I imagine I’ll have lots to blog about when I get back.