I love my little big city.
Yesterday, I drove across the breadth of this town that I love, my window rolled down with the smell of freshly-cut grass in the air. My new used books on the seat next to me, and a smile on my face.
I know the streets: which are one ways, which traffic lights aren’t timed with the others, where the potholes and dips are, which neighborhoods have outlets. I have walked through the neighborhoods, ran down the streets, and drove the interstate. I have my favorites, like Farnam and 16th and I will always love the rundown streets of Little Italy.
I have shopped in the stores, ate at the restaurants, drank at the bars.
I interact with the people: I I have honked at those fuckers who cut me off, I have swayed with strangers at concerts, I have made small talk with people in check-out lines. I have even began to consider them all being clothed in red on Husker game days endearing.
A friend told me about a used book store, so I went there for their closing sale. The owner asked me if I was from Omaha, and I said “yes,” which is probably what I say if anyone asks and I’m not in Omaha. But then I corrected myself, and said, “no, I’m from the Seattle area.” That reminded me:
There was a time in my life when I knew nothing of this place. And I could have never known it. I could have heard it mentioned in a song or seen Eppley Airfield on “Up in the Air,” or thought it was the capital of Nebraska. But it could have never been a part of me. I could have never known of the Henry Doorly Zoo or what ConAgra Foods manufactures or who Warren Buffett is.
But I do. Omaha wormed its way into my being and made a nest there. Or I wormed my way into Omaha and made a nest here. Even though it’s where I’m from, Omaha has become my home. I moved away from it, and in doing so, longed to move back. It got in my blood: Dodge Street became my main artery. I know this place better than I know the place I grew up. And somehow, the place where I grew into adulthood now means more to me than the place where I grew out of childhood.
I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.