I took this picture when I thought I was leaving Omaha for good, when I'd return only once a year, to spend Thanksgiving with my family, and to see old friends who hadn't yet managed to escape.
Not born, but raised in Omaha, I longed for an end to my suburban confinement. As I grew, so too did the city. Once, my family lived as far west as the city went. Nothing but grass and trees for miles beyond my house. And now? Asphalt and concrete as far as the eye can see. The roads, badly in need of widening, are congested with communters and shoppers. And glass office buildings glint in the sunlight, a blinding reminder of the price we pay for "progress."
I became sick of the shopping malls, the restaurants and fast food joints that seemingly sprung up on every street corner. I grew weary of the people and their undying devotion to Cornhusker football. Remember, this is a state that elected the former football coach to Congress for no reason other than he won a lot of football games. The city grew, yet still managed to feel like a dull, lifeless prison, the sense of sameness pervading everything.
"I know there's more to life than this," I thought. "I know there's so much more out there that I need to see."
I've left Omaha many times over the years, for many reasons, only to return, as if the city were a black hole and I, no matter how far I went, was forever trapped within its grasp. Each time, upon my return, I would wander the streets downtown, contemplating my life, my history, and that of my city, comforted with the knowledge that, regardless of both my reasons for leaving and for returning, I would always be welcomed with open arms.
The truth about Omaha is this: it's a nice place to live, but I wouldn't want to visit here. There's relatively little crime, and decent jobs to be had if you want to work in one of those glass-skinned office buildings. It's a good place for young families to put down roots, but that just isn't me right now.
Omaha's been home for a long time, and it always will be. But that doesn't mean I'm not chomping at the bit to hit the road again.-Dave Golbitz
, Omaha, NE