My dad has apparently become quite the gardener all of a sudden. The flower above is a "Henry Fonda" tea rose that my dad planted in his new backyard in Phoenix. That's right, my fam moved to Phoenix. No more small town Illinois for me... He's got a million other flowering plants in the yard, all of which I'm sure will perish in the sweltering Phoenix summertime. I have to admit that late spring in Phoenix is pretty damn nice, though.
I think Galesburg and Chicago will always be where my "home" is, though. I am too much a product of small town Midwestern life to ever think otherwise. Other than my skin color, I really grew up as your clichéd all-American kid. Baseball at the end of the street, lemonade on summer days, climbing trees and all that jazz. It's unfortunate that a lot of kids don't get that opportunity anymore - kids are forced to grow up a lot sooner than they used to be. And my hometown is dying - all the major manufacturers are gone now that employer loyalty is gone - it's cheaper to build everything in Brazil, Mexico, or China.
I'm happy for the fam, though - small town America is a difficult place to be when you're an immigrant. No matter how well you speak the language, or how successful you are, small town America is a place where culturally immigrants stand out, and by standing out, are also isolated. Which isn't to say that my parents had no friends, but rather, very few. As much as America is touted as a melting pot, inevitably people gravitate towards others with similar experiences and similar mindsets. They have that now in Phoenix; I hope they make good use of it.