Thursday, July 16, 2009

County Roads and City Lights

Halfway through my stay here in Iowa, I am beginning to miss home. As much as I am enjoying my experiences here, images of home linger. Cara, my friend since the fifth grade, came to spend a week with me, and the timing couldn’t have been any better. Having her here was like having a little piece of home to remind me of what I will be returning to.

Sometimes you have to have something taken away before you realize its worth or its value. I have been in Fresno most all of my life, yet never realized the privilege that it is. In fact, I have always had a plan to leave when the opportunity presented itself. My extended stay away from home has illuminated what I overlooked when I was pre-occupied with the idea that “the grass is greener on the other side.” Though it is literally greener here in Iowa, the figurative “green” from the old saying exists anywhere you are. You only have to open your eyes to see it.

Both Cara and I have been amused by the small town that I am staying in. Not unlike the movies, Panora is a place where the town sheriff walks into a restaurant and calls the people by name. Secrets are rare, weather is a topic of conversation and the people are friendly and real. The setting is gorgeous, spaces are wide open and the air is so clean. Dirt roads and cornfields seem to be all there is for miles on end.

We spent the fourth of July in Chicago, the utter extreme of Panora, where lights, traffic, people and buildings temporarily fill the voids of people seeking all forms of entertainment. We rode busses, crossed bridges, stood at the 103rd floor of the Sears Tower and saw the sun set from the pier, behind the silhouette of the skyline. We watched fireworks burst above the lake before making our way back to our downtown hotel, amid a crowd of people.

Since she’s been here, we’ve done everything from visit a livestock auction yard in Guthrie Center, Iowa, to eating deep dish pizza In Chicago Illinois; some of which I can do at home, in California. But others are unique to this part of the country. There are things about the Midwest I will miss deeply: the fireflies, the weather, the vast openness and fresh air, the people and their traditions. But there are things about my home that are unique too. The landscape, the variety, the location that offers both county roads and city lights, and a different kind of people. But most of all, family and friends; no part of the world, regardless of its grandeur, could ever replace these.

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