June 2016 Column Winner

Hand me my ruby slippers
Nicole Smith, Tri-County Herald

While at the Oklahoma Press Association’s annual convention I met a young man by the name of Parker Perry from the newspaper in McAlester.
During our conversation he asked me where I was from. I told him that I was from a small town here in Oklahoma.
“Define small,” he said.
“I graduated with a class of 26 people,” I said.
A familiar look of amazement crossed his face, as is typical when I tell people about the size of my hometown.
He began to ask me a few more questions, most of which I had been asked several times. Then, he threw me a bit of a curve ball.
“So why does your family stay there? What reason do they have to live there?”
I stood there feeling a combination of speechless and confused.
Not because I didn’t have an answer, but because the concept of his question was so strange to me. Finally I was able to put my thoughts in order.
“Because it’s our home,” I said. “It’s where we’ve made our life, it’s all I’ve ever known. We have friends and family and a community of people we love.”
Now it was his turn to be confused. Where the conversation went from there I can’t quite recall, but it did make me think for a while afterwards.
My dad once said “You can have roots and wings, but you have to make a life of your own. You never know where God will lead you.”
Where I come from, roots are all you have. The people in my town, and the memories my family has there are what makes it our home.
It keeps us grounded. For some people this never really happens. They can pack up and move from place to place, never really feeling a connection or obligation to stay.
The little town of Pond Creek may not be much to speak of, but it will always be my family’s home.
It’s where we belong. I may have gone off to college to make my own way, but I’ve never forgotten where my life began.
Everything I am begins there in that little town, and if that’s where I end up, I don’t believe I will mind one bit.
Whenever the city gets too noisy and packed in, I know that I always have somewhere I can escape to, two hours away, where I never cease to belong.

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