The Plant that Didn’t Grow

I have a bee in my bonnet.

This bee is more like a dog with a bone. It won’t let go. All the racket it’s making, buzzing—what kind of beewouldn’t buzz, in a bonnet or out—creates a hum I can’t resist.

I suppose I should be thankful; sometimes the bees in our bonnets get us nowhere. Sometimes they  only take us places we have no business. This bee? It’s teaching me more about how to make where I am my home.

As with most bees of this sort, it set up shop unnoticed. We moved to Tulsa. Not so much an insect of torture or awareness as a simple fact of life. Job in Tulsa=Us in Tulsa. But that was nearly 17 years ago. I came along, happy for adventure, but set against a lifetime on the dusty tundra of my imagination.

And then life happened: babies, friends, jobs, interests…the intervening years gave me roots even as I resisted. I was the plant that didn’t want to grow. Not in Tulsa, anyway. But the plant grew. (I am, by the way, having a delightful time with my metaphors right now.)

Then, I met some friends who love Tulsa. When I say they love Tulsa, I mean these people wear T-shirts boldly declaring their love for Tulsa. Tulsa? Yes. Tulsa. And they know a lot about the place, too. Their love and knowledge was the director’s cue: the bee cleared its throat and began to sing. I started asking questions. I began researching the background of this funny little city. I started going places ten years ago I’d not have dreamt of going, not alone, not just because, not ever. No. Way. Nuh-huh.

I read. I talked. I listened. I looked. The looking part, taking in the sturdy, ornate, wild concoction of Tulsa architecture is what finally gave the bee its aria. (See? Maybe it’s a mosquito that gave me metaphoritis?) I drove down a section of Route 66 yesterday. I wanted to stop and get out of my car, snap photos, touch the brick, ooh and ahh at the abandoned buildings, the signs of a time when a highway put a city on a map, quite literally.

The bee, in essence, is my teacher. I learned about the first oil wells, the roughnecks, the virtually unknown—certainly unremarked “Black Wall Street,”—that burned to the ground. I read about oil barrons and ballparks.

And here I was, all, “Pittsburgh’s the best place in the world, and its history can kick your history’s booty.”

Is it possible to have roots all over the world? If so, I want that. I wonder if knowledge of a history is one of the things that makes a place home. When I think of home, instead of a latitude and longitude set in definable space, I think of people.

This time of year, our minds are filled with home, aren’t they? Thanksgiving and Christmas sort of mandate we spend quality time our loved ones, and they are the history of our home. They are the signposts of our past and a partner for the next steps. When I am with family, I am rooted. I know and I am known.

Can a person have roots all over the world? I hope so. The more I get to know this funny little city, the more I want to stay here.

Can a place have the same kind of allure as people? The bee in my bonnet sings yes.