The reddish-orange clay inherent to Payne County tints the intermittent cattle ponds a ruddy brown. Their winter coats shed, horses and heifers dot the pastures and shine in the mid-morning sun.
With my college girlfriends in tow, I feel my shoulders ease the closer I get to the place of my birth. That red dirt is home to me, and I feel my old center with each familiar mile of highway.
We sped past Stillwater and traveled on to Perry. Our friend's daughter is soon to be married and her wedding shower awaited us.. The outskirts of Perry betrayed me, but Julie pointed left and right until I see the old Victorian house that marks the left turn for the county road we take to her house. Half a mile ahead, I recognize the fork in the road I am to take and the railroad tracks we cross before we arrive at her farm. As we top the hill, a golden lab stands unaffected by our approach, and I slow to a crawl. Julie cackles when I flick my blinker to turn into her driveway as no one joins us on the battered gravel road.
The afternoon wore on. The mother of the bride sat with me toward the end of the gift opening. Thirty years of friendship, I am not sure we every dreamed of giving our kids away. With each new cooking set, or decorative piece opened, I watched as the daughter's eyes rose to find her mother's - to offer joy, to seek approval, to connect - to share that look that only mother's and daughter's have, that place inside and outside of our hearts..... the look of home.