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Back in early January, I passed a milestone: my 20th year of living in Omaha.
In many ways, it feels like I've always lived here. Most of my adult life has happened in this city I call home. I moved here as a 31-year-old single mom, fresh out of a difficult life change. I needed a fresh start, a new place to call home, and Omaha was it.
I learned the streets of this town, first driving a mile here and there in straight lines so I could easily find my way back to my starting point.
In this manner, I found and frequented the Family Dollar and the thrift shop on 24th Street in South Omaha, in the heart of Little Mexico. It's the same place where I had my first authentic Mexican meal. I can still hear the music, the people talking in rapid-fire Spanish, and the aromas of that little cafe that also sold hand-made pinatas. I bought one for my son's 4th birthday party. None of those places are there anymore.
I lived with one of my best friends at the time in the suburb of Bellevue, then moved to my own apartment in the city proper with my ex-husband following a few months behind. There was a movie theatre, a bar & grill, and a frozen yogurt place down the road, while an old Kum & Go sat on the corner. There was a grocery store and a department store down another block and across the street. Everything we needed was a brief walk away. All of these places? Long gone.
Six and half years after I first moved to the area, I was now married with a daughter, and we moved our bigger family out of the two-bedroom apartment and into a three-bedroom rental house. It was our family home and our kids grew up there. The kids grew taller as each subsequent Halloween rolled by. The house got older, too, and lost the newness it had when we first moved in. We spent many nights on our back patio, sitting around a fire and consuming more drinks than were good for us. Our son grew up and moved out on his own, our marriage ended, and after twelve years of living in the house, we went our separate ways: my daughter and I into our own apartment, and my ex into his.
That was almost two years ago and yet I can still feel the renewed sense of hope and excitement at the prospect of new beginnings I had.
All of those years, all of those memories, and all of those places are a vivid part of the past twenty years of my life. I've never done so much yet feel like I've done so little.
Such is the passage of time. Our greatest, and most fleeting, of commodities.
I wonder what the next twenty years of my life will bring. I mean, I have a pretty good idea but if I've learned anything over the past twenty years, it's that nothing is a given. Things don't always work out the way you expect or hope, and that can be either a good thing or a bad thing...depending on the situation.
I guess I hope that life goes, to a large extent, the way I have imagined it in my head peppered with an occasional bad or good bump in the road.
Here's to the next twenty, friends.