Lincoln

July 7th, 2013 Comments

Sometimes as I walk around my neighborhood, I can’t believe I’m living in Lincoln, Nebraska. The most amazing thing is how much I’m loving it. Seriously? How can a Left Coast boy like me ever be happy living so far from the edge. I mean, adventure is one of my core values – there are no mountains here, no whitewater rivers, no ocean, no rain forests, and certainly no dangerous urban environments. I’m no longer on the edge – I’m in the Great Plains.

And yet, I feel really comfortable here. Our neighborhood is so much like the eastside of Portland, I can hardly believe I’m not in Portland. Sure, I miss the views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Tabor, Rocky Butte, and the West Hills, but when one walks in tree covered neighborhoods, it is hard to see those buttes anyway.

Lincoln, in many ways, is like a smaller Portland, urbane, eclectic, and almost hipsterish. Having an inner city, world class university helps. the 24,000 students at UNL make a considerable impact on the city. In addition, being the state capital, there is a decidedly progressive attitude here – which I did not expect to encounter in the midwest.

In addition, there are still many local restaurants, cafes, and shops. Once you get out into the suburbs, the franchises occupy the retail space, but in town, there is certainly more local fare.

Besides a few humid days, and the occasional monsoon thunderstorm, the weather is relatively temperate. I enjoy a regular evening walk through the neighborhood. The lack of HOAs allows for tremendous diversity. There is everything from colorful lighting, junk, and vegetable gardens in people’s front yards. Some people are clearly hoarders and others are meticulous OCD yard freaks, it is a plethora of sights, sounds, and smells. Just what it takes to excite the creative spirit in me.

When I was a kid, it would take about 30 minutes to drive across Portland and most resources were within about 15 or 20 minutes from home. Since about the 1990s, that time increased to 45 minutes and the city went from being a large town to a small city.

Here, in Lincoln, it is almost hilarious to hear people talk about different sections of the city. “Oh, we live way down in southwest,” they’ll say. Or another will talk about living way out in the country. In reality, most places can be reached in 20 minutes or less – and usually one can walk to a local store or drive within about 10 minutes. It’s almost too convenient! As I get more familiar with the area, I expect to walk, ride my bike, or take the bus more. Though not as convenient, this is certainly a town where one can survive without a car – or at least have only one car per family.

There is a feel here that I like. A friendliness, an openness, and a spirit of community that is often lost in bigger cities. Portlanders are by nature proud of our city and state, and there is much to feel good about there. But Lincoln seems to be a well-kept secret, probably because there’s a bit of a midwest inferiority complex – I mean, it’s Nebraska – really! In fact, most of the natives I talk with will apologize for being Nebraskans. It’s like they know they aren’t as cool as their neighboring Coloradans and they’re kind of ashamed to be neighbors with the Dakotas and Kansans.

New transplants are more careful, but one can detect a bit of apologetics in the way they talk about Nebraska cornfields and midwest flatlands. The one bright spot for everyone seems to be the Husker football team. And yet, I believe there is much to be proud of in this city. In fact, I haven’t been in a more family-friendly city in a long time. And, it is very bike-friendly. There is nothing to be ashamed of here.

Certainly there are some negatives. The bus system does not run seven days a week, and the schedule is a bit infrequent. It would be nice if there was a more geo-friendly addressing system – Portland has one of the best I’ve found. Also, some of the drivers here seem bent on proving they aren’t small-town hicks. They ignore the speed limits, zip in and out of traffic, and are oblivious to their surroundings. Yes, you’ll see these things almost anywhere, but here it seems like some of these folks are trying to prove that they aren’t from Lincoln and they have no patience for the well-mannered locals.

Overall, I am thrilled to be a part of this city. It’s the first major move I’ve ever made where I’ve been so quick to embrace my new address. I dreaded the move to Southern California, but grew to love it there. I struggled with my move to SW Michigan, and though it was OK, I was glad to leave. Wyoming was definitely never a place I would choose to live again. Our 15 long months there were a challenge. Colorado Springs took some getting used to. The climate was good, and we enjoyed being in a city large enough to have resources, but the town is very scattered and never felt very welcoming.

Lincolnites are very welcoming, friendly, and open. this is a good move and I hope to spend the rest of my days here.

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