Letter from New York
A fresh look at Tulsa.
I am sitting in LaGuardia Airport waiting to board a flight back to Tulsa. I’ve been in New York the past few days for a book signing in Brooklyn. It wasn’t as glamorous as it sounds. It’s the first time I’ve been in New York alone. My wife usually comes with me, and we always have a blast, but New York alone is a completely different experience.
If you were to ask me what I’ve done in New York, I’d probably say, “Nothing.” And in a way, that’s true. All I have really been doing is walking the streets, smelling the smells, watching the crowds and soaking it all in. I’ve been writing this column for a few months now. Having to write something about Tulsa every week not only makes me see my city in a whole new light, but every other city as well. When I was young, I used to think that everything interesting happened outside the Tulsa city limits.
Feeling restless and taking your home for granted are not new trends, nor were they when I was a teenager or when my parents were young. As an aspiring writer, I assumed that one day I would be living here in New York. Where else could you have such a profession? Paris, perhaps. Maybe San Francisco. But New York was and is the center of that world. But one of the things I noticed right away on my first trip to New York years ago was that I felt a sense of what can only be described as déjà vu.
Why? Because I have seen so many movies, read so many books and been so immersed in the popular culture of New York City that nothing was a surprise in any way. It still feels that way. And that’s not all bad. There was an initial comfort that came with it, kind of a home-away-from-home feeling. But a home away from home is still away.
It was on that first trip that I began to see Tulsa in a fresh light. People in New York, as recently as yesterday, asked me questions about Tulsa and Oklahoma that I would never think of. They have this strange fascination. Why? They don’t know anything about it. Tulsa is a mystery. And in that mystery, lucky for me and any other creative person in Tulsa, is an opportunity to share something about ourselves with the rest of the world. What a gift from home!