When I think of a dream home, I picture an old craftsman style abode with stucco instead of vinyl siding. I want a large, covered front porch from where I could sip my coffee from a swing early in the morning while I watch the neighborhood come to life. I picture built in bookshelves, bay windows, and original 1920s woodwork. Of course, this home would sit on a quaint street in a small town located outside an urban area. Our neighbors would be a mix of cultures and backgrounds and would be the type of people from whom you could “borrow” a cup of sugar. And of course, our kids would be able to walk to school by themselves and play catch in the streets with the other neighbor kids.
It’s funny how our dreams take shape; I’m not really sure when I concocted this romantic world. But as my husband and I transition from small town living to urban dwelling and begin searching for a home, I find myself struggling with more than simply sacrificing a bit on my dream home decor.
The issue of where to land and grow a family is a contentious one. Omaha is a much bigger city than what I’m acclimated to--and it seems there are more issues affiliated with living here. I talked with one Omaha native about looking in the west Omaha area for a home simply because it would be a manageable drive for both me and my husband. “Oh,” she stated. “Well, just know that people will think certain things about you if you live out there.” While the comment might seem rude on the surface, I believe she said it simply to let me know of the realities of living in a suburban and largely affluent portion of Omaha.
A significant part of me wants to live and raise kids in an area rich with diversity and easy access to arts, culture, and local flavor--somewhere that seems quite the opposite of west Omaha. At times I feel uncomfortable in suburban areas because I feel sorely out of place. I don’t have the clothes, the vehicles, or even the furniture to fit in. However, living in suburbia has its draw: proximity to jobs, the familiarity of a primarily homogeneous area (a quality similar to where we both grew up), and homes that are more than move in ready. Familiarity seems alluring because in my mind, familiar equals safe. Who doesn’t want to feel safe--especially if kids are added in the equation?
It seems crazy, but I’ve really been struggling with these issues this week. It’s hard not to assume that a diverse area is isn’t safe. It’s also hard not to assume that suburban areas are filled with white middle class folk who don’t want to interact with much diversity. I’m trying to dismiss my preconceived notions about each segment of Omaha and search instead for the “right” place to call home. For me, it’s important to be intentional about this decision so we can live well in our new place. I’m confident this will be a difficult decision for us. When it’s all said and done, I hope I can look back and be thankful that we were so deliberate.