I stand in the middle of this tiled circle, and I hear my voice echoed back at me. It rebounds through one ear and out the other and it’s a dizzying experience. Lauren stands at my back, hearing her own voice. The sky is perfectly blue and there are people waiting their turn, but I am at the center of the universe. And it is in Oklahoma.

When we first drive into the city I almost cry. This place isn’t a desolate wasteland abandoned by God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit all at once. Instead, there are tallish buildings and a Waffle House and everywhere I walk I can feel that my people exist here too.

Tulsa is all red brick, and it is sleepy for a city. Or maybe that is just because we are here on a Saturday afternoon, and nothing is popping. I shake my head to clear the traffic I know exists any day of the week for the city in the trees. Lauren and Juan take me to a Caribbean restaurant, and I eat fried shark and a waiter spills water down my pants, and I look like I pissed myself.

Luckily my jeans are dark. Luckily, I am eating fish that was caught (?) fresh at least two days ago and flown into this double landlocked state and driven to this restaurant and becomes my bake and shark and coconut shrimp.

Luckily there is a Cajun shop in this city, and I buy boudain and shrimp and crab and crawfish for the gumbo I am going to make tomorrow. I will make my roux by hand like my grandmother did.

Or I will call my mom and ask her for her cheat code.

Luckily, I have a car now and I can come back out here, and I can stand at the Center of the Universe, Tulsa and hear my voice echoed back a thousand times over and realize that I’m not so alone in the world.

Exquisite Armantè is a writer who was planted in Atlanta, cultivated at LSU, and then transplanted to a MFA Program in Oklahoma where she now resides. Her work can be found in Hobart Pulp. When she isn’t writing, she is learning to be an adult with the help of her blood and found family. You can find her on Twitter @exquisitewill or at her website exquisitewrites.com