I just returned from a business trip to Omaha, Nebraska and I think I can say it… I have kind of a crush. Not on any of my coworkers – that would be weird and I think Gil might have a few things to say about it. No – I have a crush on the Midwest. Or basically everyone I met in Omaha.
I don’t even know if Omaha is technically considered the Midwest, but whatever. It’s not on a coast – it’s the Midwest to me.
And I mean, I should clarify – I didn’t fall in love with the city of Omaha itself. Although I will say they had a much cuter downtown area than I was expecting. It was yuppie and trendy enough to impress a Bay Area snob like me. Good eats, good drinks, good atmosphere.
Outside of that, it was definitely much FLATTER than I’m used to… you can see much further in one direction than I think is natural. And I know for a fact I wouldn’t survive a whole winter out there. My idea of a heavy winter coat is basically a sweater with a big faux fur collar.
But the allure of Omaha is the people. I can’t remember the last time I interacted with so many friendly people in a row. Everyone is nice out there… for NO REASON. It’s a little unnerving, because when people out here are that nice to you, it’s usually because they’re trying to scam you or they want something from you. I sound jaded, but it’s true. I’ve lived in the Bay Area, LA and New York, and whenever strangers are overtly nice to me, I go on high alert.
In Omaha, that’s just how they roll. I took Uber back and forth to the office while I was there (mostly because I can’t be trusted to drive company rental cars – you hit ONE WALL and it becomes a thing) and every single one of my drivers was friendly, engaging and had a story to tell. And I walked away with business cards from three of them.
There was the real estate agent who had lived in San Diego, Portland and all over Florida, but always came back to Omaha because it was in his blood. He spent a good chunk of our time together selling me on all the reasons why Omaha was the best place to live. I told him I wanted to leave California so Gil and I could afford a real house together, and he offered me his card and told me to consider Omaha for the quality of life. He’s the one that old me the Midwest (Omaha in particular), has such a strong sense of community because the winters are so miserable that they all have to pull together to help each other out to get through it.
Then there was the limo driver who was warm and friendly and felt like a family member I just hadn’t met yet. He told me all about the crazy shenanigans he’s witnessed as a limo driver – the worst of which was when he was driving all day for a wedding, when halfway through the reception the groom comes out with the MAID OF HONOR and fully gets it on right there in the limo, with the privacy partition down. He told me her hair was basically on his sleeve as her head was jammed between the front seats but that it wasn’t his place to get involved. I got his card too, in case I need limo or car service next time I’m in town. Or if I ever need a secret place to cheat, since apparently part of his fee includes minding his own business at all costs.
And on my way out of town, I met a stay at home mom who was driving for Uber to help pay off her car and supplement the family income while she is attempting to write a young adult novel based loosely on her son. We hit it off so much it felt like we were old girlfriends and she told me I was the perfect first passenger… flattery will get you everywhere. I have her blog info somewhere in one of my bags too and I will buy her book if she ever publishes it.
Out here in the Bay Area, it’s just not like that. People are much more focused on keeping to themselves. More interested in checking their emails and following up on the latest messages in Slack to actually speak to the person driving them around the city.
And I basically lump myself into that group too – I am the “them” who are too tied up in technology to interact with people on a more human level. Then I went to Omaha and realized that maybe it really ISN’T me… maybe I’m a product of my environment. I can take on the the personality of the city I’m in, and I liked what that meant for those 4 days out there in the middle of the country.
So I got sucked in you guys. I started to imagine our future together, the Midwest and I. Started thinking about what it would be like if we got to see each other more often… if things got more serious and we even decided to make it a little more permanent.
It was basically the equivalent of being so used to Tinder dates who pull out their dicks when you’re not looking, to going out with someone tall and handsome with broad shoulders who pulls out chairs and holds doors for you and kisses you so passionately your knees buckle, but doesn’t pressure you to go home with him the first night. You don’t really know anything about him, but you’ve named your future children with him before you fall asleep that night.
The reality is, statistically speaking he will probably wind up to have one or more personality traits you can’t stand, like the fact that he always tries to order for you in restaurants, or that he starts to try to push his aggressive religious beliefs on you. Or that he always screams the name Wyatt when he comes. You know, it’s always something.
So I need to keep my shit in check… I need to stop searching Realtor.com and getting a lady boner when I see what kind of house I can afford in Omaha. I need to accept it for what it was. A vacation fling with a local that was only magical for those 4 days in that hotel when “real life” seemed so far away.