A song written in thirty minutes in a hotel room in Tulsa in the 1970's became a classic. Danny Flowers, guitarist for Don Williams, penned the song during a snowstorm. Williams liked it and recorded it. So did Eric Clapton.
For the first time in too long, my kids and I made a recent road trip to Tulsa.
In the past few years, we've seldom traveled.
As a family, we used to hit the highway whenever possible. We took long, two week vacations, made weekend getaways and day trips. We knew the highway between here and Louisiana like an old friend.
Once upon a time we took long Sunday car rides, never knowing if we might end up in Oklahoma or Arkansas or Springfield. We often headed for Joplin to shop or dine. Malls were less our thing than bookstores or eclectic shops.
In 2014, my daughters and I visited New York City and Washington DC. The next year, we made road trip to the DC area through the heart of Appalachia. And in 2016, I rode along when they went to a Blues game in Kansas City.
As a family, we loaded up and headed for Springfield, MO in January 2016 for a book signing.
That's the last family trip farther than Joplin that I can remember.
In October 2017, my husband's health nose dived and in November, he faced the first of what would be four major back surgeries. From that time, any traveling we did was related to his health, to Joplin, to Pittsburg, KS where he spent some time at Via Christi, and to Seneca, his final destination.
In the months since his passing, I've been to Joplin on several occasions but no farther.
I'm tied down with work and life. Travel money hasn't been in the budget for a long while.
On the first Friday of August, however, my kids invited me along on a trip to Tulsa and after initially fussing that I had to work, I decided to just do it.
I went and enjoyed the day, despite a few rain showers. We visited the Tulsa Space and Air Museum. We watched a show at the adjacent Planetarium. And then we had a delightful lunch at Kilkenny's Irish Pub in Tulsa.
Roy and I were always planning to go to Kilkenny's but we never did.
The food was amazing and the ambiance fantastic. The place has the authentic look and feel of an Irish pub. I enjoyed Effin' Fisherman's Pie - a tasty seafood concoction that included shrimp, cod, and scallops.
Our family trips to Tulsa in the past centered around the zoo or places from The Outsiders (the young adult novel by SE Hinton) and Ron's Hamburgers.
One of my novels, "Gray's Good Samaritan" is set in Tulsa, inspired by what was probably the last time we visited. Another, "Stranger Danger" has some Tulsa scenes as well. With any luck, the recent journey might inspire something new.
For me, the time with my kids was priceless, a diamond among the rough spots of every day life.
But, it was also something more - living on Tulsa time, making a trip without my husband, taking a much-needed break from work, it gave me back a little of myself.
For the past twenty-five years, I've been part of a couple, half of we and a wife. Now, I'm learning to be me, just me. It's strange and scary in many ways but the trip to Tulsa provided a first step toward becoming myself.
Living on Tulsa time, even for a day, did me good.
-Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is a staff writer for The Neosho Daily News. She is also a freelance writer and published author.