My summer trip to Verdigris proved to be somewhat of an eye opener. Not only was I a city girl…I was a southern city girl, and Devin was a true Midwestern country boy. That was just the beginning of differences. I grew up thinking about dance class, hair appointments, music, having fun, shopping and what I was going to wear the next day. Devin, on the other hand, grew up thinking about hay bales, tractors, trucks and hunting. I knew we came from two different worlds but staying a week with his mother out in the country made it all the more evident.
When I was growing up in the city, we went to “town” everyday. We didn’t need an excuse to go, we didn’t need to go on the same day every week either, and if we forgot something…we just went back and got it. Not in Verdirgis! I soon found out that going to town was a once a week event in the Rohr household and if you forgot something…you did without till the next trip. After days of sitting around the house waiting for the men to get off of work, I was about ready to pull my hair out, I was in need of a trip into town. When Friday rolled around no one was happier than I. I wondered what the day would hold…shopping? Errands? Maybe lunch? That morning Maxine showed me our “to do” list. Then she enlightened me with a very strict, minute by minute schedule, along with the route we would be taking. I soon realized that this was not going to be a fun, take your time, eat lunch, look at that cute dress, kind of trip. Nope. This was going to be a, get your stuff done as quickly as possible and hurry back home, kind of trip. Once again, this was not how we did things back home but I was determined to learn to appreciate their way of doing things. First we went to Maxine’s weekly hair appointment (This was a first for me), then the post office, two different grocery stores (in order to get the best deals), then to Swans Dairy to get fresh milk from a real cow(another first), stopped at the gas station to fill up (whether she needed it or not) and then to Wal-Mart. The entire trip was over in about 2 1/2 hours and before I knew it…we were back home and my day of fun was over.
Back home, in Alabama not only did we have a normal ‘one party’ telephone line…we had two lines with two different phone numbers. At Devin’s house they had this thing called a “party line”. That meant they had to share their phone line with three other families. I had never heard of such a thing! I was instructed, by Devin’s mom, to always check and make sure no one was on the phone before I started dialing. Of course I forgot and picked up the phone to call my Mom. Little did I know that the, not so nice neighbor lady, was on the phone at the time. Let’s just say I heard about it later and that I didn’t make a good first impression.
Something else I was not used to was the use of the words North, South, East and West. About every hour or so Maxine would look out the front door glass and say, “well, it looks like the wind is comin’ out of the north”. This was puzzling to me to say the least. It had never occurred to me to question which way the wind was blowing…ever! And why? Why was it important that we know which direction it was coming from? I didn’t even know which way north was! They also used the terms North, South, East and West when referring to areas of the house or property. They would say things like, “I just saw a buck at the North-East corner of the barn” or “there’s a limb down just West of the drive”. This was so puzzling to me…and even more mind boggling….everyone in the house knew where North-East was but me! On one occasion, Devin had forgotten to take his jeans with him when he went to take a shower. “Mom!”, he yelled from the bathroom, “can you bring me my jeans?” She had her hands full at the time so she said, “Tonya, I put Devin’s jeans on the devan in the North bedroom! Would you grab them for me please?” My mind raced in a thousand directions. What the heck is a devan? and which way is North? I began to panic! I wanted so badly to make a good impression on Devin’s mom and prove to her that I wasn’t just a shallow city girl…now this! I could feel my face getting all hot and my palms began to sweat. I took off for the other end of the house hoping I was headed North, all the while mumbling to myself, “devan? What is a devan?…north, north which way is north?” Finally! I found them! There they were all folded up, nice and neat on a couch! I quickly picked them up and took them to his mother. Later on I asked Devin, “what in the world is a devan?” he laughed and said, “you don’t know what a devan is?” “well, if I did I wouldn’t be asking you what it is’ now would I?” “it’s a sofa or couch”, he said with a chuckle, “why?” “well your mother asked me to go get your jeans off of the devan…in the north room”, I said, “we don’t call it a devan where I come from…and we don’t use North to describe which room it’s in either…that’s just weird!
During my stay I experienced something I had never encountered before and hoped I never would again. You see, their house didn’t have central heat and air. Instead they had a huge window fan that drew air in from the outside which created a nice breeze through the house. I was not used to a window fan but grew to love it quickly. I had spent the better part of my life being cold so the thought of staying in a house with a warm breeze blowing through it was appealing to me. One day while Devin was at work I decided to take a nap out in his room, hoping it would make the day go by a little faster. I cracked the window and positioned myself so I could feel the warm breeze on my face. I laid so peacefully in his bed, listening to the gentle rumble of the window fan and watching wheat, in the field out front, sway in the wind. Before I knew it I was in lullaby land. What seemed like a twenty-minute nap, actually ended up being more like a two-hour deep sleep. “hey there sleepy head”, Devin said as he kissed me on the cheek, “you better get up. How long have you been asleep?” When I rolled over to say hello I quickly realized that something was wrong. My eyes were burning and practically swollen shut, my head felt thick and heavy, my throat was scratchy and sore, and absolutely no air was going in or out of my nose! “I don’t feel so good”, I said. Devin asked me once again, “how long have you been asleep in front of this window?” “I’m not sure, why do you ask?”. “Look out the window”, he said “looks like they cut that field of wheat while you were asleep.” That beautiful field of wheat that I had admired just a few hours before was now gone and every partial of wheat that blew in the wind was now in my head. For two hours I laid with my face in the crack of that open window…and for two hours I sucked what felt like an entire hay bale, up my nose! I had never been so sick in all my life. My eyes were swollen shut and I sneezed and blew snot for two days. I was trying so hard to fit into their country way of life but this was just too much!
Day in and day out for the entire week of my stay, Devin went to work while I stayed home with Maxine, tending to things around the house. I couldn’t wait for 5:30 when he would walk through that front door and we could go do something fun! Right on time, he pulled into the drive and came into the house. Every time I saw him my heart melted. With a smile he said, “I’m going to go count cows, wanna come along?” I had never heard of counting cows before, it didn’t sound like much fun but at this point I was game for anything outside of the house. “count cows?” I asked with a puzzled look, “how many cows are there?” “52” he said quickly, “do you want to go?” “sure!” I replied, “but if you already know you have 52 cows why do we need to count them again?” He just smile and hurried me to the truck. “I count them every day to make sure they’re all accounted for and none are lost or sick”. I crawled up in the truck and found my place right beside Devin. He drove me around the country side showing me where he hunted and where they ran cattle. I never knew how happy I could be sitting in a truck and counting cows…but I was blissfully happy. “wanna get out?” he asked. “sure!”, I said, as I crawled out of the front seat. Devin grabbed an old quilt from behind his seat as we made our way to the pasture. The day was absolute beautiful and so was the land we spread the quilt out on. “did you really bring me out here to count cows?” I said with a smile. He chuckled a bit and said, “maybe, maybe not…I just thought it might be nice to be alone for a while.” I could not have agreed more! There we were, laying under the big blue Oklahoma sky, arm in arm. We laughed and talked like love birds typically do…then he kissed me tenderly. Oh how I loved this man, I thought, it was such a perfect moment. Just about the time things were turning more serious, Devin suddenly pushed me out of the way, pointed to the sky and yelled out, “oh wow! Look at the ducks!” In an instant I had gone from being wooed by the man of my dreams, to been stood up for a flock of stupid ducks! I had no idea that ducks were so important…but then again there were obviously a lot of things I didn’t know 😉 Later, after the excitement of the duck sighting wore off, we got a good laugh out of it.
My visit was quickly coming to an end. I learned a lot that week. I learned what a devan was, which way North was, to always check the party line before dialing, that cows must be counted every day and that hey should never be snorted. But the most important thing I learned was that it didn’t matter what Devin and I did…or where we did it…whether it was counting cows or picking out wedding china, walking through a mall or lying in a field…it didn’t matter if our differences were as far as the East is from the West…as long as we were together, that was all that really mattered. To be continued…