Wednesday, September 26, 2018


What if we lived in Norfolk, Nebraska for the rest of our lives? With no family within four hours, only two other family members in the same state, and two families scattered in every imaginable way and direction, Norfolk has some things going against it. Depressing things.

Yet Norfolk offers almost everything that many people have said they want in their hometown--it’s small enough to feel safe, big enough to support a family, remote enough that it’s largely populated by people who were born in the area, and slow enough that it will probably be the same town when your kids have kids of their own. Omaha doesn’t check any of those boxes, and Lincoln is full of people who are just taking a break before they move to their mountain homes in Vail.

On top of that, you don’t have to be delusional to see the hometown values of Norfolk. There are some lesser parts of town, but the whole town isn’t dumpy--this isn’t Columbus. And Norfolk isn’t one of those small towns that’s small in name only--take Papillion, Nebraska for example, which is basically Omaha with a different name (also, hi there, Dickinson!). There aren’t any cities about to annex Norfolk. Norfolk is an island, with an ocean of farms in every direction.

There are probably a thousand Norfolk’s throughout the United States--not of the same name, no--but this is our Norfolk. We’ve lived here for 12 years. Its pace is lovely--not to mention sane and healthy--when compared to any of the cities where our family members live in Texas or Colorado. Norfolk isn’t a rat race, at least outside of the overachievers at its chamber of commerce. And the seasons--we have all of them. In full.

Norfolk isn’t going to win anyone on beauty points, but that’s a large part of what will keep Norfolk from turning into anything other than what it is today. There aren’t mountains to draw in a bunch of rich people who view their address as a status symbol. There aren’t oceans to attract hurricanes and tsunamis. Granted, there is the risk of tornadoes, but a tornado doesn’t can’t indiscriminately destroy an area the size of Houston--with a tornado, a house a block away from yours might get blown apart, and all you’ll be missing are a few shingles.

Will it be home forever? That remains to be seen, and that’s about the best anyone can guess. We’ve had near-family in Omaha express an interest in having us move there, which does put Omaha on the radar. But Norfolk is where we say we are from at this point; our businesses are based in Norfolk, our son was born here, and Norfolk is where we made our home. And its not a home in the sense that we hung some cute-but-commercially-produced “home” sign over our door--our home tells a story of where we’ve been, how we’ve gotten to where we are today, and reminds us that we’ll always have a place with each other in a world which has no use for anyone who lives outside of the races we seek to avoid. 

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