This is where I came from


In this trip to China, I brought my camera with me with this shoot in mind. I wanted to return to my childhood neighborhood and capture those memories. I moved to the United States when I was nine. All I had was an address and vague memory of the neighborhood.

The street leading to my neighborhood is called “高第街” (Gao Di Jie), it’s full of stores on both sides. The smell of leather products never left the street. After twenty years, this street has certainly passed its prime. I remember when I return home after school, this street was always full of people. I got pushed and shuffled around many times like moving through a crowded bus before I can make it across. Now, it looks more modern, but not as lively. As development has already reached the front of this street, I’m afraid it wouldn’t be here the next time I visit.

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The area I lived in is called “许地” (Xu Di). This area usually goes unnoticed because… look at it. Why would you ever want to go into this tiny dark alley (about 3ft wide), with a wall at the end telling you it’s a dead end?

About half way down this alley is where I used to live, 许地 4-1, the door with a red poster. It used to be a wooden door. The walls also have been reconstructed with concrete to support the new metal door. I can’t imagine what it’s like inside. Neighbors told me it is only used for storage now. I remember my “house” was under someone’s staircase, must’ve been less than 200 sqft. My parent’s bed took a half of the space, if you get off the bed, you can either sit on the chairs on opposite side or walk outside. There was no room to play. I didn’t have a bed until I was six when my father converted a sitting bench to an expandable bench/bed. My cubical at work probably has more moving space than my old house. With these memories, I have a lot of gratitude toward my parents, had they not made the many sacrifices to move and stay in the US, my life would’ve been … very different.