# 10-- The Mexican Food
Thank you, God, that most of the southern half of the United States can do some justice to the delicious cuisine of our neighbors to the south. BJ and I once (and only once!) made the unfortunate mistake of trying Mexican food in Minneapolis. When BJ and I are craving Mexican food, we now end up in places like Ted's, Alfredo's, Big Truck Taco, and Cocina Guatelinda. =)
# 9-- The Open Sky
Carrie Underwood wasn't kidding when she sang, "I miss the big blue sky, the Oklahoma kind." I missed it when I was gone too. I want to see nearly every bit of the sky, and in Oklahoma I can.
# 8-- Conversations with Friendly Rednecks
Oklahomans know what I mean. Here is an example of one of my favorites, a conversation some years ago with a fellow on our hospital unit:
Me: So, what are you going to do when you get home today?
Friendly Redneck Fellow: Well, I guess I better mow the blasted lawn
before the weather comes in tonight.
Me: Yeah, I hear there's a big storm coming.
FRF: Yup, and I've got four acres to mow.
Me: Geez! I hope you have a riding lawn mower!
FRF: Well, I used to, but last year I done blowed it up!
# 7-- The Equal-Length Seasons...All Four of Them!
If you get too much further north or south from here, the seasons suddenly begin stretching in one direction or the other. Now don't get me wrong, because the summers in Minnesota are absolutely glorious! Glorious! We were outside all the time! But the winter lasts from October to early-April. Down in Dallas, just a couple of hours south of here, there really is no winter. But here, we get four wonderful seasons, and basically all in equal length, with perhaps a little taken from spring and added to summer as it starts getting pretty hot in the last half of May. If you can handle the heat in June, July, and August, then you're golden for the rest of the year!
# 6-- Running Into People I Love in Random Places
I remember once in Minneapolis BJ and I were driving down I-394 westbound and I got a call from our friends Kevin and Carrie, who shouted, "Look to your right!" And there they were, driving beside us on the highway! This was only one of two times in five years of living in strange places (Minneapolis and Tulsa) that we ever ran into friends by chance encounter. In OKC our network of friends and family is more plentiful, as would be anybody's in their own hometown, and we regularly see unexpected friends and family members at places like Thunder games, restaurants, and Target. Happiness.
# 5-- People Value College Football
In other parts of the country you'll find emphasis on basketball, hockey, golf, surfing, etc. I love nearly all sports, and all of these listed I would gladly sit and watch! But something about football, especially college football, stirs my blood and revitalizes my very soul. Especially that orange and black team in Stillwater.
# 4-- Vacations!
That's right! Now we get to spend our vacation time actually going on VACATIONS instead of using them to visit much-missed family members at home! Places like Florida, Seattle, Boston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Virginia, and North Carolina have suddenly opened before our very eyes as we spend our time away from work going to visit friends in their very cool places (including Minnesota, which is now one of our favorite vacation destinations!). The pic below is from a vacation to see some of our besties in MN.
# 3-- Tex and Sam
Tex has insisted that I allow him to have one of these numbers so that he can relay his ecstasy about living one mile from his best friend Sam. Sam is my parents' golden retriever and an extremely frequent companion of Tex's. When we lived in Minnesota and Tulsa, we and my parents always made our visits driving trips so that the dogs could come along and see each other. Here they are napping together in our living room.
# 2-- Our Mommies and Daddies Are Here
Besides each other and Silas, they're our favorite people in the world. Need I say more?
and #1-- "There's no place like home."
There just isn't. When we lived in other places I sometimes felt as though I was holding my breath, and when we visited home it was like letting all that air out and gasping in the good stuff. It's weird, I know, but maybe some of you who are strangers in a strange land have felt the same way. Now, every day, my lungs are filled with sweet, familiar air.