It’s that time of year again. When I sat down to write this post, my phone sent me a news alert that read, familiarly, “strong storms expected in OKC metro tonight.” Naturally, panic ensued.
See, I’ve never done well with severe weather. I’ve always been a not-so-hot mess when anyone mentions the word tornado (I cringed when I typed it!), and I’m always on edge the entire spring season.
Now that I’m a mom, I just know my paranoia is only going to worsen. I’ll worry about my son’s safety when I’m at work, I’ll worry about his safety in the middle of the night, I’ll worry about his safety when I’m crammed in the bedroom closet waiting out the sirens.
Let me be honest about something. If it weren’t for the many redeeming qualities Oklahoma has, I would have moved a long time ago. In fact, our volatile weather, and my hatred of it, has prompted me to create two lists: one with reasons why I love our state, and one with reasons why I don’t.
That list of reasons why I love Oklahoma is the only thing that gets me through storm season.
Because the list of reasons why I don’t want to live in Oklahoma is pretty short, and the order of importance varies given the circumstances:
- We have tornadoes.
- We can’t buy wine at Target.
- We don’t have an IKEA.
When I think about those things–mainly number one–I spiral into a panic that can only be lessened with wine and fantastic shopping experiences (see numbers 2 and 3 above, and understand why this panic only builds).
I know all the facts, tips, and precautions. In fact, fellow contributor Hayley shared some incredible tornado safety tips that I printed and spread throughout my house.
But, I still worry. When I’m huddled in a window-free space with my radio, extra shoes, water bottles, crackers, dogs, baby, bottles, phone charger, blankets, and every other thing I think is necessary in the event of a destructive twister, I turn those safety tips into my mantra and I remind myself of all the reasons I still love Oklahoma.
Because while the weather professionals are shouting out streets that will be impacted and the sirens are blaring, I’m sitting there thinking, “We have to move. We’re moving. Tomorrow. It’s happening. I’ve got to get out of Oklahoma.” To help me get through each storm season, I remember the following:
- Oklahoma City Thunder – Honestly, this is the number one reason. I’m an avid Thunder fan, and being in the same city as my favorite basketball players (looking at you, Russell and Steven) is really an honor.
- Community – Oklahoma’s sense of community is crazy strong. From the OKC bombing to the Moore tornadoes, we know how to stand strong and pick each other up. It’s something you don’t see everywhere.
- Places to go – The OKC Zoo, the Science Museum, Frontier City, The National Cowboy Western Heritage Museum, Myriad Gardens… to name only a few.
- Traffic – I just got back from Dallas, where the traffic made me want to cut up my driver’s license and never drive again. Oklahoma City streets are easy, convenient, and less prone to road rage.
- Bricktown – I love that our city has a thriving downtown area that’s trendy and historic at the same time.
- History – I mean, this state has a lot to be proud of. We’ve given the world some pretty top-notch entertainers. Garth, Reba, Hanson, the All-American Rejects, Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Toby Keith, Kristin Chenoweth, Bill Hader, Ron Howard, Chuck Norris, Brad Pitt… this list never ends. It goes on and on, my friends.
- Scenery – Turner Falls, the Ouachita mountains, and Broken Bow are only a few places I’ve visited in this beautiful state that make me feel like I’m in another world.
- People – One thing I consistently hear from people who have visited Oklahoma for the first time is that they were moved by the people who live here. And, it’s true. The people are incredible. There’s a niceness, a familiarity, that we exhibit that’s so refreshing. It doesn’t matter if they’re a life-long friend or someone you’ve just met, Oklahomans treat all neighbors with the same kindness.
- Educational opportunities – I’m a University of Tulsa graduate (any fellow golden hurricanes out there?!) and I’m proud of my school. But, TU isn’t the only great choice for education. In fact, there are several top-rated colleges and universities in this state, and they’re all highly regarded.
- Food – I’m sure other cities have great restaurants, but do they have Big Truck Tacos? Do they have S & B Burger Joint? Do they have a Plaza District or a Paseo District full of endless, local cuisine? No. And, that’s a true shame.
Oklahoma has a lot going for it. Specifically, its capital city is full of endless potential. We’re a vibrant metropolitan where huge business have chosen to build their headquarters. We’re a powerful place for young entrepreneurs to grow their careers. We’re full of character, charm, and home cooking.
I’m proud of where I live. I love bison, native art, the shape of our state, and the unique people who have made it what it is.
I just have to remind myself of all those things when the wind really does come sweeping down the plain… at 100 miles per hour.
Stay safe this season, friends. And take it from this paranoid mom, we’ll get through tornado season. Then, it’ll be 155 degrees outside for three months.