Nebraska: A Drive-By Visit

I haven’t been back to my home state of Nebraska since 2013. That wasn’t the plan, I mean true I am not crazy about Nebraska… All right, I hate the state. I mean the story I submitted to prospective graduate schools (and was accepted – even landed a scholarship) was titled, “Fucking Nebraska.” I think that really says it all. But I go back there because people that I love and miss live there. And there are a few places I really like eating at, and they’re only there too. So the people and some of the food keep me coming back. The plan was to visit once a year and now twenty months later I finally made it back again… but it was kind of a drive-by.

I went to the AWP conference in Minneapolis last week and we (my husband, Roy, and I) decided to drive and make a road trip out of it. And one of the reasons (there were several) was to be able to visit Nebraska and all of those people that I love who still happen to live there. We arrived Saturday evening and left Tuesday morning, and were there for a whole 64 hours. And yet, despite the incredible rush and lack of time, I still got to see everyone I wanted/needed to see (with the exception of my sister, but that won’t happen until she turns eighteen, so it doesn’t count). I had to see my three of my four besties that all live in the Omaha area: Crystal, Jay and Krystin, and my brothers, my father and his wife, and my grandmother. Done, done and done. I had a strong desire to eat at five of my all-time favorite places, but only made three of them, but there’s always next time.

Even though it was a drive-by, it was a lot less rushed or stressful than longer visits have been. The first night I saw bestie #1 – Jay. We had a nice dinner at a fabulous Chinese place he knows of, which also had a lot of seafood, so it was like seventh heaven for me. The next day was Easter, which I spent with my family, and I got to see all of my brothers. This was a really big deal because my next youngest brother, Drew, has eluded me since my wedding in 2012. It had nearly been three years since seeing him! (And with the whole deaf thing, I can’t talk to him on the phone. We’ve just texted on each other’s birthdays.)

That night we saw bestie #2 – Crystal. She bought a house since we’ve seen her, and oh my God I love it! I’m already trying to figure out how to get back to Omaha and have some quality “girl time” watching Xena Warrior Princess (I’ve never seen it, but Crystal has it so…) and just lounge around and read. She has a reading room with a chair that I totally want to steal, but I wouldn’t be able to get it out the door! Crystal went with us for my midnight candy raid. (Any serious chocoholic knows that after a major candy holiday, any remaining candy is 50% off as of midnight. I do this for all the big candy holidays: Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween and Christmas.)

The next day my youngest brother Jacob skipped school to see me. That was the official excuse, and I’m more than happy to claim it, but I realize as a freshman in high school, no excuse is usually needed. We invited him out to lunch with Roy, Crystal and me at my second favorite place to eat in Omaha. Then we dropped him and Crystal off and went to see my grandmother. I was worried because she wasn’t answering her phone, and I was afraid of running into one of my relatives. (My grandmother is my mother’s mother, and my mother’s family is the one with all the crazies, like criminally crazy, so yeah I try to avoid.)

But I had to see my grandmother, so I sucked it up, my husband was very encouraging and we went, just to encounter one of my mother’s sisters with my grandmother. After all of her escapades at our wedding (refused to come to the ceremony because she wouldn’t be able to walk down the aisle as part of the ceremony – I’m not even shitting you; being a total bitch to everyone and glaring at Roy’s family; trying to start a fight by feeding my grandmother information then bringing her over and having her repeat everything she was told to say, having to feed her lines because of my grandmother’s memory, etc.) you can only imagine my internal reaction. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

But she was on her best behavior, for my grandmother’s sake, which isn’t always the case, so I was grateful and she left quickly. The visit with my grandmother was nice and not rushed at all. I suggested we go through this photo album and scrapbook the family made her years before that covers everything from her parents and her childhood to the lives of her great-grand children. It’s quite a book. We could tell stories and identify people, and it was just nice to do something like this with her. After the visit was over, we picked up Crystal and went to Nebraska Furniture Mart just to check things out, and then went to dinner with my family at my favorite place in Omaha (Romeo’s).

At the end of the night I saw bestie #3 – Krystin. We brought her and her husband, Coleman, coffee from my favorite coffee place. (And I know Krystin loves it too, we’ve met there before, but I’m not sure if it is her absolute favorite or not, but now I kind of want to ask.) We talked and caught up and played with her cats, who are a hoot and a half. Then it was time for goodbyes and we went back to my dad’s, did a little packing and went to bed.

The next morning we were up at 6:00 and packing, loading the car and saying our goodbyes. We got coffee at the same coffee place on the way out of town (I went there a total of four times during those 64 hours, if you really needed to know) and then we were off.

All in all, it was a really nice visit. I wish I had more time to spend some quality time with Krystin, Coleman and their cats, and see Jay and stop by his place and see all of his animals. And I wish I could spend some serious time at Crystal’s. I told her I wished we could go back in time and have had her house as our shared apartment back in college. So perfect… And there are those two restaurants that I never did get to… But in theory we’re going for a real visit later this year. And by real visit I mean for three or four days instead of two and a half. And really – that’s enough for me. Because Nebraska is not a place that I miss – at all. I just tend to miss the people who live there like crazy.



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