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Owens: I don’t need a picture because I do remember

Posted: January 13, 2015 9:59 a.m.
Updated: January 14, 2015 1:00 a.m.

While listening to music and brainstorming topics for my column this weekend, an old favorite song popped into my head.

I first heard “Take A Picture” by the rock group Filter during my brief stay in Scranton, S.C., after moving from Tulsa, Okla., while in elementary school.

Even then, I was a music junky and listening to the radio and CDs using my sister’s boom box was something I did quite often in my spare time. One of favorite my radio stations played the song to death, so I could always count on hearing it at least two times a day while listening in.

Although I first heard the song in Scranton, I did not invest in the album, “Title of Record,” containing the song until a few months after moving to McAlester, Okla., the following year. My sister, who stayed behind in South Carolina, was nice enough to let me take her boom box with me and I played the CD over and over again. “Take A Picture” became a part of my life soundtrack for McAlester -- a song illustrating my time there.

Although I never saw myself living there long-term and I began to yearn to get away from the small town, it became somewhat of a second home for me (I did not see it that way then). I made lots of friends there, a few of whom I still talk to today, and some of my closest family friends (pretty much family) live there. I also had a teacher there who went above and beyond her regular duties to help me adjust to my new school and make sure I was comfortable.

“Take A Picture” also triggers McAlester’s annual prison rodeo. It was one of the most popular events and -- although I never experienced one -- I feel it made the town stand out from other places big and small. My “aunt and uncle,” close family friends, worked at the prison and I vividly remember them talking about the infamous prison rodeo where people would dress up in their cowboy boots and hats and other rodeo chic apparel. According to them and several other McAlester residents, the prison rodeo made for a good and wild time.

McAlester is also the last place I participated in sports before ending my basketball and track careers. I remember working well with my teammates and being a pretty good team despite having to play with an ex-friend and three of her minions who never wanted to welcome me into their circle. The lesson I learned from them: there will always be those people who for some strange reason or no good reason at all will not like you no matter how nice you are to them. However, they are not your reason for being so continue to be merry and live and love life. My final round in sports is extremely significant to me because being active at a young age made me realize how important physical activity is and it caused me to stay active throughout my life.

From basketball, to track, to shattered friendships, I developed close friendships with a few other kids a year and a half before starting middle school. These friends understood my fallout with my last friend and we had the same taste in music and television shows. My best friend of the group and I would spend hours on the phone talking about school and discussing our favorite shows -- “Lizzie McGuire” and “As Told By Ginger” -- every week. Those moments occurred during my pre-teen years when trivial things were everything, but it was great to have friends to confide in and just be a kid.

Prior to this weekend, McAlester had not been on my mind for months. Every now and then, people I met there cross my mind but other experiences and memories I have from the town rarely resurface. I almost forgot how living there contributed to the person I am today and how many wonderful and significant memories I made there. While living in the town, I would think about moving (and did in middle school) and wonder how long after I left the memory of it would stay in my mind and if I would miss it when I was gone. Honestly, I never really knew the meaning behind “Take A Picture,” but the chorus, “Could you take my picture, cuz I won’t remember,” always stood out to me, especially when contemplating leaving McAlester behind and never looking back.

I, of course, remembered the town after I left but I did not want to go back. Today, I still remember the place and I still don’t want to live there ever again, but it has a special place in my heart. It’s just one of those places where I had some experiences I can reflect on with old friends and acquaintances and my own children one day.

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