I grew up in my grandparent’s 房 仔 on Clay St.
I remember consuming the sights and sounds as my poa carried me on her back.
The red square cloth that created the feeling of safety and security.
The peering out from behind her shoulders.
I saw everything from her perspective and because of that, I was a part of her.
As I continued to grow up in Chinatown I’d eventually learn to navigate the crowds on my own. Weaving in and out, the feeling of pride swelling in my chest as I eyed confused tourists and non-regulars. It was a rite of passage, a skill developed over time that was repeatedly refined through traveling between your grandma’s favorite market and your favorite snack shop.
Navigating Grant was never a problem. The only delays there were getting stopped by the lost tourists searching for answers.
They’d hold out the map and with their eyes they would say,
You’d shake your head to yourself, ‘impossible’ you’d whisper under your breath.
Wandering the streets and uncovering hidden beauties, benches, and stores had a heavy impact on you. You internalized the community. It became such a strong identification for you that you can’t imagine life without it. It has defined you.
You loved the hustle.
You loved the bustle.
You loved it all because they became your everyday.
What Chinatown means to me is sacred and individual but not uncommon. It's hard to ignore the atmosphere and call for community that Chinatown demands and because of this, each visitor has their own personal connection. To each his own.
The photo above depicts routine multi-generational connections, a mixing of cultures, and daily bustle.
The photo is nothing special but it is what makes it unique.
Where else can these things be seen and expected on a daily basis?
It is normal- it is Chinatown everyday.