A love letter to the 402.

 My last sunset in Omaha
 (well actually I was at a cemetery in Council Bluffs with my Grandma, looking for our shared Grandmother's grave.) 

One of the contributing factors to my blogging demise has been my inability to properly say goodbye to Omaha. I've felt so many emotions. My final Omaha post could have gone so many different directions. My time in Omaha was possibly my greatest period of personal growth. It was a hard fought battle, but I left there with a fierce love. Six months later I still don't know how to say goodbye.

For weeks before I left I couldn't cope with it ending. I know I'm an overly sentimental person, I can have an undying devotion to the things I love. As I was actually moving it felt like a weird dream and after I was gone it was impossible to feel like I'd never be going back. I mean yes, I could visit, but I knew things were already different and my life there as I knew it was over. One night right after we left I explained to Nic that it felt like that scene from the movie Titanic where images of vibrant memories overlay the sunken, decaying ship. It is just that feeling of never going back, knowing how quickly life moves on, that haunts me.

My first year there was an unexpected struggle. I just felt an empty connection to many of the people in the community I was most associated with. It was lonely enough that we seriously considered transferring Nic somewhere closer to home, but something deep within told me that wasn't the answer. But that is for another post, I don't want this post to be about anything but the tremendous love I feel toward that time in my life.

I loved the giant fork in Little Italy, it was the first thing that made me feel that special-kind of frivolous joy- that means nothing, but makes you feel giddy anyway.

I loved that I lived in one state, but went to church and the grocery store in another.

I loved that the Missouri river serves as the dividing line between The Good Life and The Field of Opportunities. And mostly I loved the Veteran's Memorial Bridge, with it's leisurely pace, and rusted out industrial beams.

I had an obsessive fascination with watching the giant blocks of ice float down the Missouri river in the middle of winter. It's similar to the soothing silence of a car wash, just watching those giant misshapen sheets of ice glide down the river.

I loved the graffiti. Especially the purposeful markings on Bancroft Street Market. When we moved there not even half of the building had been tagged, by the end it was nearing completion. One of my main regrets was not leaving a little marking of my own.

It was a stressful three years, with little money and the stress of law school, three kids and the future on the line those city streets became a balm to my soul. I'd drive them with conviction, because something about them spoke straight to my heart. I prayed through those streets, I cried through those streets, I sang from the top of my lungs through those streets and I seriously loved it all.

I loved the fresh tortillas from Bag N' Save. The look on my girls faces when they spotted those uber-sparkly quinceanera gowns from "Modest Bride". Really anything on Vinton Street. Scarlett once begged me never to take her to the grocery store there "ever again!"  It was ghetto, but it gave this white girl from Utah some street cred. However, my very favorite thing on that street? The aptly named "Matrress Store", which was, without question, 100% a front for drugs.

I loved the diversity. Meeting kids so different than the ones we left behind taught them lessons I never could have back home. My heart really loves the community of South Omaha. It is vibrant and hopeful and I pray that it always stays that way. There were so many people that were so kind, loving, accepting and gracious to myself and my kids that I will forever feel apart of that.

I loved having a zoo in my backyard. And my bearded, gray pony-tailed, widow neighbor John (who worked there.) He was the most talkative friendly man. He made his own Hawaiian shirts and routinely dropped off his homemade apple butter at my door. Sometimes I'd have to hide from him because he'd hold me hostage with his long-winded chats. But he was wonderfully weird and not once did he complain about the noise he surely heard coming from our side of his walls and for that I love him dearly. He was a really excellent neighbor and friend.

I feel blessed that my kids went to a school where they felt safe, valued and like they belonged despite everything that made them different from their classmates.

I loved the connection to my heritage. I loved that my people lived there and left there long before I was ever born. Moving away from home always kind of made me feel like a modern pioneer, blazing my own trail (even though it is something people do every day, it was far out of my comfort zone.)

I loved the fireflies of early summer and the mind-blowingly ideal Octobers.

I loved the history of the city. Trust me I studied it all! I could give a decent mini-tour of Omaha everything from Warren Buffett's 'hood to the piano from that Lady Gaga music video would be included.

Halloween was perfect at Village Green, it was like the Halloweens I remember as a child (kids and candy everywhere!) Right now this is one of the things I miss the most, as did my girls.

I loved my little house. I actually cried as I walked through it for the last time. Shutting the door and realizing I no longer lived there kind of broke my heart. I'd put everything I had into that house. Not just the aqua kitchen cabinets, that surely only I appreciated. But everything from our bedrooms to the basement where my girls held their weekly sleepovers and movie nights was jam-packed with memories. The countless friends of theirs, and mine, that rotated through those doors. For an overly sentimental gal like myself saying good-bye to that house kind of bothers me still. I loved the life we built there it was brimming with hope. I always knew it was temporary. But I really, really, loved it for what it was.

As the dust has settled I realize one thing I truly miss is regularly interacting with the beautiful friends I made. I miss my best non-Mormon, non Village Green pals and my soul sisters from the complex as well. No matter how much time passes I feel like I will always have a special bond tethered to our years toiling away.

Truth be told I started this post in June, tried again in August, re-wrote in October and here I sit in December trying to end it right. Because it is time. There is no one way for me to say good bye to Omaha, there is just still so much love and gratitude that I got to call it home. And with that, I turn the page.


The Claw.

Growing up my Mom was a real stickler when it came to "not buying crap from claw machines." That rule applied to carnival games as well, just in case you were wondering. Ultimately paying $15 for a $2.50 toy/goldfish/piece of candy just wasn't something we did the Albrecht house.

Needless to say, I've carried that same credo with me into both adulthood as well as parenthood. For the most part it has served me well (I mean seriously, I could've ended up like this guy. Seriously read that- it will make you feel better about basically everything you've ever done.)

But in the interest of trying new things, I didn't protest too much when Ruby pulled a dollar out of her purse to give to a claw machine at the grocery store today. "Well it is your money..." I stated,  "And you can do what you want with it. If that's really what you want to do with your dollar, that's your choice. I mean if you really think you can win that Despicable Me doll go ahead. But don't be upset when you don't." My words were technically brimming with encouragement, but not really because they were delivered in a somewhat disapproving and incredulous tone.

She definitely didn't win it, just in case you were wondering. But the important thing here is I let her try to win a Despicable Me doll from a claw machine in a grocery store. There is no way I would've let something like that fly 5 days ago. Carpe Diem y'all.


Skate or Die!

Despite spending my High School years dressing almost exclusively in an identical wardrobe to a teenage skater, I've never (to my recollection) spent any time on a skateboard.

I was surrounded by skater boys-o-plenty in my youth. Enough so that my brother had rails and ramps and gaggles of skater boys in the backyard year round. Yet I never made any effort beyond my Volcom/Dickies/Element clothing. That was as committed to the "Skate or Die" lifestyle as I came. In skater speak- I was a poser.

So tonight, in my 29th year, I finally picked up a board (have I earned enough street cred to call it that yet?) and cruised around the backyard while my kids were inside asleep, just like a young Tony Hawk. Pretty hardcore if you ask me. And by cruise I meant scoot. I did wear a hoodie, so I looked less like a Mormon Mom (except for the whole actual skateboarding part.)