A reader writes:
I live and work in Oklahoma City, which I share with around 1.2 million other people -- and, with the exception of a few years in France and some court-ordered visitation to see my dad in Colorado as a kid, I've lived here my whole life.
I can think of almost no other place more maligned by elites, or more undistinguished geographically than my hometown. Historically, if we're even thought of at all, it's in the context of the Grapes of Wrath, the terrorist attack in '94, or some really hideous, semi-literate policy oozing out of our state legislature almost tailor-made to snuff out the little dreams of us self-identified progressives. But yet, it works for me, and I love the city and my little life I've carved out here. It was not always so. After college, with twelve dollars in the bank, and a degree that gave me great cocktail party trivia, I bumped into the grim job market reality for people like me. (Shockingly, potential employers didn't seem impressed by my translations of Catullus). It led this natural gypsy to learn the benefits of being rooted in a place - friendships that now go back more than decade, a great lifestyle at pennies on the dollar compared to the coasts, and a professional life that lends itself very easily to having ... a life.
I wouldn't have seen this coming ten years ago, but life in Oklahoma City is getting interesting. In my new neighborhood in downtown, I'm in literally in biking distance of all of the following: beautiful, historic neighborhoods, some of the best Vietnamese restaurants and supermarkets I've been to anywhere ($2.50 will get you a great Bánh mì sandwich on an authentic, bakery fresh baguette), a great spot for urban rowing along the river downtown, art galleries, museums, locally owned pubs and restaurants, an NBA arena, a new bio-tech campus, and a new corporate skyscraper that is coming out of the ground right now and will be among the tallest in the region when its completed. It seems that cranes are literally everywhere here.
So, even though Richard Florida still haunts my dreams occasionally, encouraging me to move to Toronto, or somewhere else, I think this place still has a little bit of that American pioneer mojo that the dinosaur-juice-milkshake-drinkin' land thieves brought with them around 100 years ago. It's an interesting time to be here - and in a potentially resource, energy constrained future, I think the candle here may burn even brighter still down the road.
Share the story of your city -- email firstname.lastname@example.org