Revisiting familiar places with new eyes seems to be a constant theme in my life as of late. And I am learning to love it again. Chinatown in Los Angeles is one of those places that I hold near and dear, for reasons more than one. It was the first semblance of community and home that my family and I settled in after immigrating to the States from Hong Kong back in 1994. Yes, this may sound like your typical Joy Luck Club journey, but there’s some golden truth to it.
I remember growing up in a cramped apartment on top of the hill on Figueroa street. Altogether there were seven of us in a two bedroom arrangement. Day in and day out, I would see my parents leave early for their menial wage jobs to support the whole family. My older sisters, the two who were of age, eventually took up cashier jobs at local grocers to help offset my parents’ burden as they were completing their high school education. It was both frustrating and humbling at the same time, knowing that there was little I could do to help out, so I tried my best to stay disciplined, excel in school and take ownership of all miscellaneous chores in the household. Although times were rough, the constant laughter and tears of joy are moments I still find to be bittersweet. I am proud and happy to say that we’ve come a long way since 1994. My parents raised 5 very successful and self-sufficient children, the result of hard-work, perseverance and resilience.
As I traverse through these similar surroundings, I am reminded that home is where the heart is. No matter where the twisted and winding roads of life leads me, I can confidently say these experiences will continue to inspire and embolden my next metamorphosis.
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