A Balance of City Streets and Dirt Roads

Last week we met a customer in downtown Tulsa to drop off an internet order. Normally we mail orders but this time we knew we’d be in Tulsa and thought it’d be nice to hand deliver the order. I know many people shudder at the thought of dealing with the sparse parking and the one-way streets that downtown Tulsa are known for, but we’re not those people.

We parked in front of Mods. It’s a funky little shop at 5th and Boston. You can get a Nutella crepe, some gellato, or even a cup of peppermint mocha. It was cold. I chose the peppermint mocha.

Chris and I sat and enjoyed our steaming cups and stared out the window for a while. After finishing he left to find a restroom and I took our cups to the counter to save the barista a few steps. Then I walked outside and sat in one of the chairs on the sidewalk. I imagine these chairs get a lot of use in warmer weather. I was warm inside though and that was enough to keep me happy.

As I looked around and watched the people going about their day on the streets of downtown Tulsa, I thought about how much downtown Tulsa is a part of my life. Ten and a half years ago I left a house and a marriage and moved downtown into a little rented condo. My actions upset my world, and a good many people. It was risky. I could have easily lost the most important person in my life but I hoped she’d come to accept the changes I’d been forced to make. Not forced by anyone else, but forced in the way that if I didn’t make a change I would lose myself, my sanity, and any hope of leading a happy, stable, and balanced life.

I got a second job after I moved downtown. An office job by day, a bookstore job by night. The small second income helped me to be able to buy the little condo with the atrocious green interior paint, annoying neighbors, and minute kitchen. It had a small abandoned patch of a flower bed. I grew a few herbs here, a bit more there, some flowers, and a little butterfly bush. Before long both the flower bed and my spirit were beginning to heal and bloom. I lived just a mile from work and would walk to the office if the weather was reasonable, or money was tight. I seldom got beyond my little 5 mile radius unless it was the weekend jaunt to flea markets and thrift stores. Downtown became my home.


When we are in “town”, as we call it now, we’ll often eat at one of the downtown restaurants – Elote, McNellie’s, or El Guapo. The knit shop where I met some good friends and learned the basics of knitting was in downtown Tulsa. There’s a good locally owned wine bar at 18th and Boston where I used to walk to meet my friend Cathy to knit and drink wine during the dark winter months.

Now I live a satisfying and happy life on a large farm just over sixty miles from downtown Tulsa, but almost weekly I’ll make trek into town for several hours. In a few days my daughter Hillarey and her partner Lance are coming out for a farm visit. We’ll bake a chicken and enjoy a relaxing evening together. It’s been a good year at school for her and she has some new work to show us. She’s a finalist in a national art contest and will be going to Philadelphia in February to the awards ceremony. Lance is a talented musician and cook. He’s in several bands that play in the Tulsa area at night, by day he’s the kitchen manager at Elote. They are good people.

We’ll talk, we’ll eat, we’ll take a farm hike, and we’ll play with the dogs.

Last night we walked out our front door a little after midnight. We stood in the far end of the North Pasture that serves as our front yard and we stared at the starlit sky. A car slowly drove the dirt road beyond the tree line as we watched the Geminid meteor shower, seeing maybe fifteen meteors race across the darkness in about five minutes time. The temperature was in the teens and we were bundled in layers, cold but happy.

Now I sit in my little Rabbit Hole of an office, at a messy desk, a cup of coffee at hand and know that both the one-way city streets and the dirt roads are home to me. There is nothing that says balance has to be 50/50 though. I prefer a 95/5 farm/city balance. I had no idea ten years ago this was the balance I sought, but I’m glad I’ve found it – or it’s found me.

Christmas week 2009

Last week we met a customer in downtown Tulsa to drop off an internet order. Normally we mail orders but this time we knew we’d be in Tulsa and thought it’d be nice to hand deliver the order. I know many people shudder at the thought of dealing with the sparse parking and the one-way streets that downtown Tulsa are known for, but we’re not those people.We parked in front of Mods. It’s a funky little shop at 5th and Boston. You can get a Nutella crepe, some gellato, or even a cup of peppermint mocha. It was cold. I chose the peppermint mocha. Mods has an offer going on right now. Bring in the cup from your chain restaurant or coffee shop, toss it in the giant bin and they’ll give you a cup of locally roasted coffee so you can experience the difference that freshness makes. Chris and I sat and enjoyed our steaming cups and stared out the window for a while. After finishing he left to find a restroom and I took our cups to the counter to save the barista a few steps. Then I walked outside and sat in one of the chairs on the sidewalk. I imagine these chairs get a lot of use in warmer weather. I was warm inside though and that was enough to keep me happy. As I looked around and watched the people going about their day on the streets of downtown Tulsa, I thought about how much downtown Tulsa is a part of my life. Ten and a half years ago I left a house and a marriage and moved downtown into a little rented condo. My actions upset my world, and a good many people. It was risky. I could have easily lost the most important person in my life but I hoped she’d come to accept the changes I’d been forced to make. Not forced by anyone else, but forced in the way that if I didn’t make a change I would lose myself, my sanity, and any hope of leading a happy, stable, and balanced life. I got a second job after I moved downtown. An office job by day, a bookstore job by night. The small second income helped me to be able to buy the little condo with the atrocious green interior paint, annoying neighbors, and minute kitchen. It had a small abandoned patch of a flower bed. I grew a few herbs here, a bit more there, some flowers, and a little butterfly bush. Before long both the flower bed and my spirit were beginning to heal and bloom. I lived just a mile from work and would walk to the office if the weather was reasonable, or money was tight. I seldom got beyond my little 5 mile radius unless it was the weekend jaunt to flea markets and thrift stores. Downtown became my home. When we are in “town”, as we call it now, we’ll often eat at one of the downtown restaurants – Elote, McNellie’s, or El Guapo. The knit shop where I met some good friends and learned the basics of knitting was in downtown Tulsa. There’s a good locally owned wine bar at 18th and Boston where I used to walk to meet my friend Cathy to knit and drink wine during the dark winter months. Now I live a satisfying and happy life on a 250 acre farm just over sixty miles from downtown Tulsa. In a few days my daughter Hillarey and her partner Lance are coming out for a farm visit. We’ll bake a big chicken and enjoy a relaxing evening together. It’s been a good year at school for her and she has some new work to show us. She’s a finalist in a big art contest and will be going to Philadelphia in February to the awards ceremony. Lance is a talented musician and chef. He’s in several bands that play in the Tulsa area at night, by day he’s the kitchen manager at Elote. We’ll talk, we’ll eat, we’ll take a farm hike, and play with the dogs.Last night we walked out our front door a little after midnight. We stood in the far end of the North Pasture that serves as our front yard and we stared at the starlit sky. A car slowly drove the dirt road beyond the tree line as we watched the Geminid meteor shower, seeing maybe fifteen meteors race across the darkness in about five minutes time. The temperature was in the teens and we were bundled in layers, cold but happy. Now I sit in my little Rabbit Hole of an office, at a messy desk, a cup of coffee at hand and know that both the one-way city streets and the dirt roads are home to me now. I had no idea this was the balance I sought, but I’m glad it found it me. var gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.” : “http://www.”);document.write(unescape(“%3Cscript src='” + gaJsHost + “google-analytics.com/ga.js’ type=’text/javascript’%3E%3C/script%3E”)); var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-xxxxxx-x”);pageTracker._trackPageview();

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3 thoughts on “A Balance of City Streets and Dirt Roads

  1. What a wonderful post! I can so relate to that having to make a change or lose yourself. I'm so glad your journey has gone so well, and we have met as a result! 🙂

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