Agadir - The plane touched down in the heat of summer of 1977 in Tulsa’s airport coming from Denver, Colorado of which we, International exchange students, did not experience much as it was only a transit location on our great trip across the USA. I heard and read quite a lot about Oklahoma State before I got to Tulsa. My dream had been to get a chance to visit Oklahoma City mainly because I knew it hosted the largest Cowboy Museum in the U.S. as I was such a fervent fan of western movies and Rodeos back then. I did not make it to Oklahoma City, but instead, I got “saluted” and welcomed to Tulsa by the gigantic statue of the Oil Driller that represents, I would say, the city and its booming oil drilling activities.
Agadir – The plane touched down in the heat of summer of 1977 in Tulsa’s airport coming from Denver, Colorado of which we, International exchange students, did not experience much as it was only a transit location on our great trip across the USA. I heard and read quite a lot about Oklahoma State before I got to Tulsa. My dream had been to get a chance to visit Oklahoma City mainly because I knew it hosted the largest Cowboy Museum in the U.S. as I was such a fervent fan of western movies and Rodeos back then. I did not make it to Oklahoma City, but instead, I got “saluted” and welcomed to Tulsa by the gigantic statue of the Oil Driller that represents, I would say, the city and its booming oil drilling activities.
In Tulsa, I was lucky enough to have stayed with a different kind of American host family. The members of this family were all so kind, nice and welcoming. There were not many of them in fact just a lady, her teenage son and the sweetest daughter you would wish to have as your own. The charming little girl was about fourteen years of age. She was so energetic and gracious; she held my hand and showed me around the house, played some piano music for me and later displayed her ballet dancing dexterity. Although my layman opinion may not count much but I thought her finely tuned movements spelled out mastery and talent of a bright future ballerina. The girl was such a hyperactive and extrovert kind of a child. She was endowed with this great and magnificent quality of willingness to entertain and please her “entourage.” In a few words, she was “the sunshine” of that home.
In that family’s house, what was equally striking for me was that the ceiling was rather high as most houses in the U.S. have relatively low ceilings for practical reasons, mainly for heating purposes during the winter season. Unlike the spirit of the little girl, the young man and his mother, though extremely nice and kind, were at times somewhat cold and distant like the ceiling in their home. One gets the feeling they were going through some mourning or grief period that was weighing on their spirits. The absence of a person with “the father” role could have been a plausible clue but I never wished to figure it that way. In a nutshell, I never liked to be nosy; I immediately chased that unnecessary speculation out of my mind.
After 37 years of visiting Tulsa nothing stands out in my mind when I recall the experience than the feeling one would get when escalating the “shoe” of the gigantic Oil Driller to have one’s photo taken by a friend. I remember we were all dwarfed within such a perspective by the Driller’s towering statue standing well above our heads. I bet the idea of giants and dwarfs as in fairy tales had somehow crossed almost everyone’s mind at that moment. I can also vividly recall a walk we, my new Oklahoman friends and I, took by a pond or a stream where stately white swans paraded accompanied with a score of magnificent cygnets. The male swan was extremely protective of his territory and offspring to the extent of displaying very unwelcoming aggressive behavior towards us while the little cygnets were enjoying that protection and making their progress calmly and peacefully in a synchronized family advance. We did not wish to disturb the swans too long by our noticeably unwelcomed presence so we left to go elsewhere.
It was evening when we made it back home after a wonderful day in Tulsa. After dinner, I went to my room and started packing my suitcase in preparation of the second leg of the trip. As I was doing so, a mental association happened to have conjured up in my mind; the Tulsa swans together with my little host ballerina made me think of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake”. That was a beautiful image I thought to myself except that maybe the vacant place of “the male protective swan” within this Tulsan family started to be of some unconscious concern to me. I, all the while, wished my guess was wrong and secretly hoped and prayed for a miracle to restore a brighter reality for this small Tulsa “flock” I happened to have spent a few days with. To me, that was a way of persuading myself I was deeply and sincerely grateful to my Tulsa host family.
I also was considering the idea that all “flesh and blood oil drillers” may not be dumb to fail to realize that oil associated business markets are of an extreme volatile nature and therefore can, in a flash, bring much misfortune and unhappiness to a great majority of people round the world either because of politics or else because of a sudden market crash. This reality “the gigantic statue” may never come to realize.
The next morning, the sun was shining when I bid farewell to my host family and to the sweetest little girl in the world and made it to the Greyhound station to start a new journey this time round to Little Rock, Arkansas.
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