Long before I bought our home in Rehoboth Beach my parents lay my roots. Roots of possibility and potential, of dreams and hard work, of faith and family. Life was hard and easy because of my parents steadfastness and their belief that their children would achieve and that their love would bind us always.
Before our country went into lockdown, Chinatowns were suffering losses up to 70% of their sales due to anti-Asian bigotry. San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest Chinatown outside of Asia as well as the oldest Chinatown in North America. Once boasting over 930 storefronts a mere 150 are operating today. Chinatowns aren’t just restaurants and tourist attractions, they are cultural and financial hubs for generational communities. With Lunar New Year approaching on February 12th, a time of year that provides most of the revenue for these businesses, the streets will remain largely quiet with parades cancelled. These are photos taken of San Francisco’s Chinatown in January 2019.
When you leave a place, like really leave a place, packing up all your belongings and treasures into what you can carry knowing you will never return.
When you struggle, persist, adapt.
When you see your children realizing your dream.
This is not unique to me or my family, it is the story of every immigrant.
I always envied friends that had extended family, that had generations to reference, that had traditions and family homes, that had roots.
Anthony and I have been taking our kids to Rehoboth Beach, DE since Lucas was five months old. Each year we return because we love the place; the saltwater air and crashing waves but also the charming shops and restaurants that make this place a city-beach town. A day at Rehoboth is crepes at Cafe Papillon with a Rise Up nitro coffee, a greasy sub from Gus and Gus with Thrashers fries, me shopping at Sole Boutique and Bella Luna while the kids hit Candy Kitchen and Gidget’s Gadgets, Muffin Mania and Beach Ball Toss at Funland, dinner at Henlopen Oyster House or Lupo’s or Stingray or Salt Air followed by gelati or Kohr Brothers or funnel cake, skeeball, bumper cars, endless hours at Zelky’s and armfuls of stuffed toys. Over the past few years Anthony and I have discussed buying a second home and as we reflected on locations it was an easy decision to pick this place that had unknowingly become our second hometown.
Traditions are predictable and create connection and while the traditions we’ve made with our children draws us here the future conversations where Penny says “Remember when I won my first Squishmallow in Beach Ball Toss?” or Oliver says “I want to see that black and white movie again that was playing at Lupo’s.” or Lucas says “Remember the surry bike ride when we were so heavy Dad could barely move us?” and the traditions they’ll carry forward are what has made us lay down our roots here.
Deep roots of tradition, of family, of values, of generations to come.
During the long months of quarantine the one constant was family. Every week I saw my family, my lifesaver in a sea of isolation, restlessness and fear. I didn’t tell many because it was a personal decision and judgements were being dealt swiftly and fiercely. But just as important as our physical health is our mental health and when our minds have nothing to do but wonder, wander and overthink seeing family was our sanity. We told the same stories, shared the same opinions and laughed at the same jokes week after week; it was wonderfully predictable and comforting. So after months of quarantine we took our routine on the road. For one week our jokes had new air to breathe, we had new scenery for our stories and the foundation of family remained solid in the sand.
I color you pink, like our cheeks after we’ve been running, jumping, laughing
I color you blue, like the sunny skies that seem to surround us whenever we’re together, what I see in your eyes
I color you green, like the grass in Central Park, in our backyards, in the parks we’ve played
I color you orange, orange you glad I didn’t say banana?
I color you turquoise and purple and silver and glitter, like the unicorns and princess dresses and slime we’ve loved over the years
I color you with my big, broad brush of friendship
Layer upon layer, year after year our mural is a reckless, silly, beautiful mess
You and I the only ones knowing the brick that lies beneath
Two eyes to see
Two ears to hear
A nose to smell
They don’t know that they shouldn’t bloom, that they should hide their brilliant pink so as to not draw the eyes, the crowds. They are simply answering to the rain and the sun.