I pulled up to The Square last Friday night and the place looked amazing. Lights popped in and out of my focus and danced in my eyes over the night’s cool air. People were walking around the sidewalks shopping and smiling and laughing. The old courthouse was lit up with lights fixed on its structure; it is the standing center piece of where I grew up. What I call home. I grew up in the county and still live there now, but I love to be on The Square, in certain restaurants or stores I went to as a kid and still do; the places I look at every time I make the familiar loop.
The Courthouse stood tall and beautiful. It made me remember running around the lawn or up and down the Courthouse staircases as a boy while my mother worked in the lobby. I look back up and Christmas lights dangled from the Courthouse, shining to other buildings, other businesses. I saw Ajax and it made my stomach get hungry. I ate there with my dad and mom my senior year of high school when Randy first opened. I kept driving the beautiful circle and saw The Gallery and knew Wil was inside working. I saw City Grocery where I’ve drank a few beers and met some really neat people, and then I started yielding and looking at the lights covering the other buildings and Square Books lit up brightly. I looked to my left and saw Neilson’s shining, and I continued past Proud Larry’s on Lamar. The City of Oxford really made the Square look great this year. They were successful at making me smile and enjoy the lights, just as successful as the businesses on the Square that make me smile. A place we all call home.
I turned down University Avenue and started my adventure back to Yocona, County Road 334, to my home. I thought about what makes things successful, what success is. I don’t know if I’m very successful, but I try. I have failed at things in my life, but it only makes me try to do better the next time, or to not even try certain things again. I talked to friends tonight and asked them about their successes. Most said family, their kids, or the wife they married. And I get that. Some said relationships they’ve had, and building trust and communication has made them who they are. One was proud to be his own boss, and another was proud for experiences and adventures with family. One old boy said he successfully made it to the age of forty-two. I had one tell me that he was glad he didn’t drink anymore and that he’s never given up on his music career. I think to each is his or her own. I think the human heart and mind want success from an early age, and it eventually ends when you are older and know what has made you successful.
I think success starts with an idea. It’s built by love and passion and focus. And I also believe you need confidence in this idea. I know one day I’ll be successful at enjoying my life and watching my kids figure out life. I’ll definitely be successful if they are happy. I’m glad some of my buddies are happy with their families and their jobs and some of the relationships they have built. I’m glad a buddy has made it past forty-two and I’ll get to see the new house he’s building. I’m glad, too, that another doesn’t have to drink anymore, and that his music is mentioned in Rolling Stone, and that he’s a hit on Texas radio. I can’t wait to hear from another friend about his family adventures or the hiking trails he’s trekked. I always love hearing about my friends’ good fortune.
I drove around The Square again yesterday afternoon and The Square is still looking pretty as always. It just didn’t have the lights on just yet. I looked over at Ajax and got hungry again, and I crept around slowly as my phone starting ringing. Rilee was calling to ask me where I was and when I would be home. She had been shopping with a friend all day. I told my daughter that I would be home soon and she liked that response. Then as I passed Square Books I got a text from Maddux asking if I would make some ice cream when I got home. I responded of course I would as I turned back down University Avenue. I headed home to my little nest down County Road 334 to try to do things the right way. I’ll keep trying when I don’t get it right. And I’ll keep trying when I get pretty good at it.
Merry Christmas, Oxford!
Featured image of downtown Oxford by Jim Hendrix.