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finding home a family’s cadence by shuge luo

For year, I’ve migrated with my family all over the world. When I questioned my parents, they responded that they were in pursuit in novelty. What I didn’t know was that behind the scene, my family was slowly fracturing and struggled to find its own cadence. There were a lot of inner tension and strife hidden away. This photo essay sought to explore the memories of people, food, things that left with me in each place.

laogang, china 1999 shanghai, china scattered throughout my life bishan, singapore 2002 didcot, england 2004 livingston, scotland 2005 AngMoKio, Singapore 2006

cupertino, USA 2010

berkeley, USA 2017

laogang, china 1999 When I was a baby, I was raised by my grandparents. I don't know much about what happened but I'm sure my family dotted and loved on me tenderly. I lived in an old apartment in LaoGang, an Oceanside town where my grandparents have lived for decades. I was a very happy child. I didn't cry much and it got to the point where my parents worried that I was abnormal. I've visited LaoGang again this year. There is a clothing vendor that my grandma frequents  - she gets her pajamas here and resells to her friends. I laughed when she told me this, since reselling and micro-businesses are all the rage right now with social media. There is a fish market since LaoGang is by the ocean. It rapid, crowded and filled with a thick scent of seafood. The car zoomed by, water splashed by everywhere.

shanghai, china scattered throughout my life It's ironic that I've probably spent the least amount of time in my home country. When I go home to shanghai, I'd stay at my grandparents place. They have a glass table, shelf filled with antiques and a red corduroy pull out sofa bed. Outside of apartment, there's a small park filled with exercise equipment. My favorite were the bicep pulleys  -  I'd cling one side and ask someone else to pull me up. My NaiNai (grandma) wakes up around 5 so she can go exercise with her fitness buddies, my YeYe (grandfather) is up by 4 practicing taichi in the bed. Whenever I'd come back, NaiNai asks me, "what do you want to eat." I'd ask her not to worry and that "anything is fine" in which she'd respond cheekily, "anything? can you eat anything? anything is not a food item." YeYe spends most of the day playing on his computer. He likes to play Bahama JieLong, a game in which you try to connect the longest set of consecutive cards. My aunt, who I call HaoMaMa is an elementary school teacher. YeYe held a grudge against her for years but the ice has finally melted. HaoMaMa is very kind to me, she buys me food, she takes me to the hairsalon. Right now, she's works on her poetry everyday and has found joy in taking photos.

bishan, singapore 2002 You know when you're in Singapore. The moment you step outside of Changi Airport, you'll be engulfed in warm humid air. You escape to the nearest taxi and head home. My family and I shared a two bedroom condo with MeiShuShu and MeiAiYi. I liked to play pranks. When MeiAiyi was in the shower, I'd turn the lights off and then run away laughing. Life at the kindergarten was dull as everyday I wanted deeper to go home. I was so sad and lonely that when a girl received some dolls for her birthday, she generously gave me one. I remember staring at the graduation pics of some children, thinking, "when will this be"me?"

didcot, england 2004 I used to think England was called 英国 because it's short for 樱桃之国. Cherry trees popped up everywhere. On my walk to school, I'd curl up a paper cone, pick some cherries and then snack on it. England was some of the happiest time of my life. My dad was at the heaviest he's ever been. He says happiness has caused him to gain weight. My family liked to go out every single weekend, we'd visit the lakes, the forests, the mountains. I was angry at my family for not taking me to more exciting and commercial areas where I could browse toy stores but it instilled a love for nature within me since a young age. On our outings, we ate cup noodles and drank hot chocolate. We had a giant and tall thermos. From time to time, we would also cook salted vegetable rice. My grandparents and HaoMaMa has visited us. We go out and play. Chinese people were very scarce in the area, so from time to time, we'd attend a Chinese potluck. Anyone who was Chinese felt like an instant friend.

livingston, scotland 2005 Outside our small apartment was a golf course. In the winter, I sat outside with a plastic cup trying to catch snow. It was fun. I made my own fun. We bought a 100 pound TV that was only about 23 inch in size. My brother and I each stole an armrest of the single sofa chair, trying to get in as close as possible to the TV. We watched whatever was running on BBC. My brother's favorite show was In The Night Garden. In Scotland, I went to my first playmate. I was so excited because I've never been over to someone's home before. We jumped on the trampoline and played club penguin. Every British home in my neighborhood seemed to have a gigantic trampoline in their backyard. To compensate, my parents got me a mini indoor one (designed for fitness). It was the last time my family was all together again.

AngMoKio, Singapore 2006 Singapore was defined by its delicious delicacies. I grew up with my mother. In the beginning, we slept on the floor in a rented room. On weekends, we'd hit up the food hawker centers and celebrate with a happy meal. My mother prided in the fact that we scored $1.50 char siur plate, while I slurp blissfully in my bowl of Congee. When my father visited, we'd get Fried Fish Noodle Soup  - a coconut milk base swirled in with fish broth. I loved walking down Orchard Road, and a brick of ice cream sandwiched between rainbow colored bread. Life at home continued to be simple, my mother was busy with her world so I crafted my own world. When we finally had our own place, I'd spend all day on my adjustable bear chair and low table. I watched dramas mainly and played playfish games. Whenever the door slammed, I knew the gaping distance between my father and mother was growing further. My mother gave me $2 as lunch money each day. I'd save by only ordering a 20 cent soy sauce over rice, and use my leftover money to buy stationary and other gadgets at the bookstore. I loved seaweed chicken and I loved the multicultural stands at my school canteen. Back then, making friends was easy  - whoever sat next to you became your best friend. My best friend was Wong Xiao Tong. To this day, she is the one person in this world who wishes me happy birthday every single day.

cupertino, USA 2010 I had high hopes for the United States, I thought it would solve a lot of my problems. I dreamed of living in a beautiful storied house with a giant garden to play in. Unfortunately, I was welcomed by a small gray apartment in the heart of Cupertino. I didn't understand the high prices of property, I only knew that my father has disappointed me. The US was where my family sought to make up one last time. Every day seemed fun, but it seemed like we were living a script. Behind closed doors were shouts, screams and wails. I imagine that my parents were in a lot of pain. Three months later, my mother left. I haven't seen her since then. It wasn't until a year later that they formally told me they'd divorced. I had a premonition it would happen since the door slamming in Singapore. Distance made it hard to sustain the relationships. My mother remarried in Sweden and my father remarried here. With my stepmother, we have a new baby sister. Now my family consists of my father, stepmother and us three children (Shuge, HanZhang, Suer).

berkeley, USA 2017 I remember asking my father once, where is home for us? He said: home is where your family is at.

Finding Home  

Ls 25 Final Project

Finding Home  

Ls 25 Final Project