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Where is home for you?

Someone once told me.

"Only the diasporic would forever preserve the memories of home and store them into a time-frozen machine existing only within the subconscious. Yet paradoxically, as much as the diasporic could never be anywhere close to home, they are ever more close to the memories of home than anyone else."

The older I grow and the more diasporic I've become, the more I'm beginning to realize how true that may be. What is it about my character, that I attribute to my home?

How is it, that after living in so many different places, and traveling to so many places around the world, that one is never going to be home again? How does that happen, when one's experience has sufficiently mixed in different environs, that a visit to your real home is a visit to the home that has already irrevokably changed, and only ghosts remain? The memories of one's past have been disjoined from the present reality.

Guandong Province, Nanhai county, 9th Village

This is what's printed on my grandfathers grave. Supposedly it's his hometown. More like ancestral village. In essence I don't think it exists anymore, you were to go to the spot where it once was, you'll find that it's just a suburb outside of Canton.

Besides, my grandfather never really lived there, having spent his entire life in Los Angeles. For many people they would send their remains to be buried in their home county. But what would I print on my own grave. Would I put this as well?

If you do go visit your ancestors in addition to flowers, bring roast pork!

I found it fascinating tradition, in addition roast pork being satisfying to the mouth, digestive system, and body. The soul also desires to consume tasty roast pork, thus it's tradition to bring if you go visit a grave in the spring, your ancestors tend to like that kind of thing, it's easy on the digestion. Although spirits may appreciate flowers, roast pork is better. Besides, once your ancestors have eaten the "essence" of the pork, it's a picnic!

Anyhow though, you look at all the graves in a Chinese cemetery, and when you read them, and it says the persons name, their family, and of course, the province, the county and the village. A western grave will tell somthing about the person, you might want to put that you're a scientist, or an engineer or somthing, and a small remark about your contributions. "Fredrick Gomez - 1910-1986 - devoted father and friend."

What would I put on my own gravestone? Would I put my ancestral village? Dare I put that I grew up in LA. Even though I was born in the United States, and only visited Tai-shan, once in my lifetime. Would I put that? Do I say I'm proud to be descended from the hillbillies of Canton. People don't seem to care as much anymore. I wonder if I'd even put my chinese name on my gravestone.

Map From the National Geographic World Atlas

If I were to put my hometown? What is my hometown?

That's the paradox of the immigrant in America. Where do you really belong. Do you think that contributes to the relentless need to move on in life. There was an column in the Boston Globe, which said essentially this, that todays generation in particular those in Boston. Some of us have no home, our parents may have moved a few times while we were growing up, and we went away somewhere for college (or even boarding school) spent our summers traveling, we spent our obligatory semester abroad, we graduated moved somewhere else for work, applied to graduate school at yet another place, got married at yet another destination, moved somewhere else for yet another job. Then finally decided to settle down somewhere. Only to move again shortly after, just because they'd grown so accustomed to it that there was no other life for them.

They contrasted their restlessness of place with their relatives who lived in one town all their lives, and only once moved across to the other side of a small town, but in the end moved back. Only because they wanted to feel like they were at home.

I guess it can go back to my co-worker in Germany. Who knew that everyone always comes back to Altontting. He claimed that his relatives had been there since way before the Black Madonna. I wonder if you going to get the satisfied, content person back in the old country, because anyone with the genes to cause them to wander has in the past five centuries wandered away. Thus the only people left are those who aren't going anywhere.

Updated - December 7, 2005