“Did I accidentally move to Ralston?” I ask, watching my neighbor Molly wrangle her chubby gray cat before it escapes through her front door. After learning that my local church has a Ralston street address and my proximity to the Ralston post office, I worried. I meant to live in the city, in Omaha.
I put down a deposit after only meeting my new studio at night—hurriedly writing a check to be first in line after learning the place was shown to another interested renter. Not knowing the view outside the window. Not knowing Molly would regularly bring me baked goods. Not knowing I would find out our building’s water heater leaked carbon monoxide and hastily warn Molly the water heater was shut down for the weekend and she better do dishes before the reservoir ran cold.
“No, you didn’t,” she smiles. Turns out, I live a few blocks from Ralston city limits. I sigh, “Oh, good,” settling into this new friendship, into quirky apartment life, into my neighborhood, which boasts Little Free Libraries and the kinds of sounds movies tell us are the American Dream.
“I have nothing against Ralston,” I explain, considering the supposed glamour a city holds over a small town and the ecosystem of my apartment—the couple upstairs who seemingly walks only at 7:00 each night, and the woman below me whom I’ve never heard as she works night shifts. There’s the leasing agent who always remembers my name and tried to set me up with her only single friend. And there’s the Electricity Game which I play by myself, checking the utility readings of our whole building, curious who uses the least heat. I always win.
Now knowing the view outside the window, I imagine the Omaha/Ralston divide, enjoying beauty in this very average Midwestern sky. Listening to the road noise on 96th Street, I envision scraping blades on concrete during winter snow removal and kids running to the pool in the summer, screaming cheerfully, alarmingly without parents in sight.
Here in this studio, I settle: intentionally building a home in this accidental place.