Bring on the Big City! Small(er) Town Life has Left me Lonely and Bored
Six years ago, I was tired of city living and eager to leave the Big Apple for the Big O – Omaha, that is. I was tired of paying an absurd amount of rent for a tiny bedroom in a fourth-floor walk-up. I was tired of only being able to buy at the grocery store what I could carry up those four flights of stairs and store in a one-wall galley kitchen. I was tired of wearing earplugs at night to muffle the sound of delivery trucks grinding to a stop outside my window.
Most of all, I was tired of being in a long-distance relationship. When we started dating, my then-boyfriend was doing military training in Texas. He had only recently been stationed in Omaha when he put a ring on it. I was so excited for us to start our life together that I was willing to overlook the location, even though all I knew about Omaha was that it was the name of a Counting Crows song and a brand of mail-order steak.
But Omaha was sure to be smaller, quieter, more affordable than New York City, and I thought a slower pace of life might even do me some good. Before we bought our house (a two-story house on a ½-acre of land that we would never be able to afford on the East Coast), my husband and I lived in a two-bedroom apartment that cost less than what I paid for my room in Manhattan – and it even included an indoor parking spot!
Life was good…but it wasn’t great. I had a hard time finding a job that matched my skill set and that really interested me. My husband and I made some close friends but not very many of them. He deployed, but I was too far from my East Coast-dwelling family to see them on a regular basis. In short, I grew lonely and bored.
And now, even with a family of my own, I’m still lonely and bored. Omahans love their city, but I don’t get the allure. Sure, it’s relatively safe (although the news reports a shooting nearly every night) and clean, but it’s lacking in novelty. The shopping is unexciting, the arts scene is small, and you can hardly catch a direct flight to anywhere.
Yet for some reason, people who grow up in Omaha tend to come back as adults (or perhaps they never left), making it hard for outsiders to make friends. It’s a surprisingly cliquey town, and the handful of good friends I’ve made are all transplants like me.
Still, I don’t blame Omaha for all of my problems; I think I’d feel similarly if we were living in Des Moines or Tulsa, for example. I’m just not meant to be a Midwesterner. I miss reading the newspaper on my subway ride to work, buying a 75-cent cup of “light and sweet” coffee from a street vendor, and having Chinese food delivered to my door from the restaurant downstairs. But, most of all, I miss living a subway or train ride away from family and friends.