Getting excited about all the Halloween displays already out
Welcome to Nebraska. Home of Arbor day. Home of GO BIG RED Husker football. Home of... Well, shoot. Let's just call it home.
After flying for roughly 32 hours, I was grateful to see Lisa's ever-chipper smiling face at the airport. She kindly ignored my unshowered-girl stink and herded me outside, baggage in tow.
"The air." I gasped. "You can smell the air. It has smells."
Lisa smiled politely, laughed a bit, and popped me into the car. We were off. I was in Omaha.
For those of you who don't know, Omaha is the nation's 40th largest city (oh thank you, wiki, for completely irrelevant facts). Founded along the Missouri River, it's tucked into the quaint 'n charming great ol' American midwest. There's lots of grass, cows, corn, cows, corn and huskers. That's Omaha.
Now imagine this. Times a million. That's Nebraska on game day. Thanks internet!
What wiki and Omaha's visitors website fail to capture is the true charm of this little place. Before leaving for Doha, I was spoiled. I expected that there would be fat squirrels chasing after my Clif Bars (a la Creighton University) and women chasing after my newly-purchased shoes.
Beautiful mural located down in the Old Market
Having lived in the Middle East, I know such assumptions are ill-founded. What is here in Omaha really is unique. My first morning back, I went on a 2.5 mile walk to the much beloved Super Target. I couldn't stop grinning. The grass was green, bright and dark and smelling freshly of earth. There was a sky, one blue with almost stupidly fluffy clouds, not bleached by a harsh desert sun. Birds chirped. Crickets and cicadas whispered from the corners, all creating the swooping sound of nature. An occasional breeze brought the slightest hint of autumn's chill right up against my face.
Enjoying Jason's Deli with one of my favs :)
Since then, I've gone on many of these long walks. My initial intense wonder (what I imagine using acid might be like?) has faded into something more constant and quiet: absolute adoration. Omaha truly is a beautiful place. With its rolling green hills and its four seasons, with the leaves of trees already tinged with reds and berries, with its farms crouching close at the city's limits, it drips its own unique splendor.
Part of the Labor Day parade: Tractors
Another charm of the big ol' Nebraska, and Omaha in particular? There are women. Women in the stores. Women in the streets. Women with their lil babies screaming at the grocery store. ...nix that last one. But there are women. After spending three months in a region where ladies are few and far between, I am constantly struck by the wonder of seeing gals out and about. Suddenly, I'm not a rarity, an oddity. I am just one of many others, and I am perfectly a-ok with that.
Part of the Labor Day Parade round II: Cars with singing fish
I love being back. Bet you couldn't tell.
Having only three weeks in Omaha before shipping out to Cali has made my time here both extra precious and a bit sad. Everything I so adore (read: Jason's Deli, Whole Foods, good people) will soon be gone. For the first time in a very long time, I feel like I finally have found a home. Thanks to Creighton, my close friends, my professors, and all those other amazing individuals (you know who you are), I have a little niche that is mine, a place where I feel not only comfortable but also loved.
Marco loves a lil lovin'
Rather than dwell on the sad aspect of my imminent departure, I've been spending these last couple weeks enjoying my favorites. I've visited several farmers' markets (both here and in Lincoln). I've seen friends out the wazoo (which gives me a great excuse to eat at all my favorite places, especially because they've usually been willing to drive my car-less tush around). I've even popped up to Creighton a couple times, riding in with Lisa. I still love Creighton. Go there.
Downtown. Pic from internet.
So that's Nebraska. I'm heading out to Cali in just two days, and from there I'll be wandering across the pond. It's crazy to think that in less than two weeks, I will be in England (if things with the visa work out, knock on wood, cross your fingers, kill a leprechaun).
I'm glad that I have a home, and that it's here in Omaha.