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These Boots Were Made for Walkin’ Away from Oklahoma
I threw my glasses away on my way back to my car. I hit myself; stupid, stupid, stupid. Before him, my only experiences with men had been a failed three-year secret fling with my best friend from high school, and Gregg. I met Gregg at a house party out in Geronimo, a town about thirty minutes away. I went with a friend of mine out to the party, an old clapboard house with a creaky porch.
We blacked out with a weird assortment of punks and country kids before we knew what hit us. I woke up on the futon with Gregg, an apple-cheeked former baseball player who sent me good morning texts for a two solid weeks before he fell off the face of the earth one day without warning.
I cried and begged and received no response. I hated Oklahoma.
Good Lord, I hated Oklahoma. I made concession after concession to it, negotiating my dreams with reality, which is how Adam came into the picture.
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Right when I turned twenty-one, Adam took me out to the strip in Oklahoma City, a cluster of gay bars that included the Habana Inn, a place I knew about before I knew about Stonewall. We peered over the wooden fence into the exposed corridors of the Habana Inn next door, where closeted older guys were cruising.
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Caps pulled low and hands shoved in their pockets, they shuffled from door to door. Sometimes the blinds would flutter, the door would open, and a man would slip inside. He had that thespian instinct to turn everything into a production.
This mattered with Adam, who would correct me if I missed his cue to respond a certain way. I returned to the men shuffling through the corridors in their Carhartt jackets and cowboy boots. I thought a sudden move might send them scattering. It was delightfully perverse, giddy sacrilege, to imagine them here, looking for gay sex.
I ditched Adam and forgot about him. I forgot about the Habana Inn. I forgot about Gregg and I forgot about the man with the gold money clip.
In the Know
I moved to New York for a writing job, which felt less like a move and more like a correction. I was putting myself where I should have been all along. Living in the big city, I found I liked being from Oklahoma more than I liked actually being in Oklahoma. It was something different. I liked telling people I was from a rural place with cows and fields. Sometimes, it surprised them.
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