Canton Gulf by Jamie Ho
I spent my teenage years plotting my escape from my hometown. Now that I have spent almost a decade living elsewhere, I find myself revisiting my childhood home more and more. Southwest Florida is as advertised, sunny and humid, and each cold winter up north has renewed my enthusiasm for trips down to the Gulf Coast. Yet, I never stay long. Florida is where my parents’ home resides. Not mine.
My parents immigrated from China to the United States to achieve that iconic American dream: owning a home. They live in a small community filled with cookie cutter houses and a housing association that requires the approval of every alteration and every fresh coat of paint. Their house is part of the suburban mold but is still able to subtly proclaim its difference through tiny details such as the way my father built his garden: a mass of greenery and tiered to fully utilize the space.
This is their home, carved out from the generic shell to form a space embedded with our rich family history and culture. As my parents grow older, I worry about the sustainability of what they leave behind. Will their home revert back to its original lifeless form under my care?
Canton Gulf is an ongoing series that aims to preserve and examine my parents’ legacy and question if home is defined by geography or by embedded traditions.
Jamie Ho lives and works in Madison, Wisconsin.
To view more of Jamie’s work, please visit her website.