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Dall'amico al Nemico
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Since my father came to America from a little mountain village in Calabria when he was 21 we have always lived in and around other Italians, specifically other Calabrese — this was my father's comfort zone. The first house he and my mother bought was down the street from his aunt and uncle, around the corner from my grandmother, around another corner from my mom's sister and her family, a little further from her brother and his family and in between was various other paesani I grew up with.
When they bought their second house my dad's best friend from Italy, who had come to American many years earlier, moved next door to us, his brother next to him and my aunt and uncle bought the house across the street. Every holiday, feast day or Saturday was spent with all these people who lived the same way we did. It was very comforting to me as well, knowing that I was surrounded by people who understood what my daily life was like because theirs was exactly the same; you see, not everyone understands when you say "my family" you aren't referring to just the people who live in your house but every aunt, uncle and cousin you have.
So when my parents moved into their third home, I don't know if it was a conscious decision or just fate, but their neighbor was yet another Italian for my father to sit in the yard with discussing their gardens, when and where to go buy the grapes for the wine making and many Saturday night get togethers eating, drinking and reminiscing about the old country. This new found friendship was yet another reminder for my father of what his life was like before he came to America and for the first few years everything was great - and then something happened.
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