Chinatowns are a weird place for me. On one end, there is a sense of belonging even though I do not flaunt my Asian identity. For most of my life I grew up in a very Asian household, eating a blend of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese food. I often denied my roots though because of a desire to fit in with my American counterparts, so I find it quite strange when I find comfort and solace in a cultural identity I rejected for so long.
On the other end there is a fierce nostalgia, but one that feels largely out of place as it burns for a country that I visit only every couple of years. Maybe it is the connection I feel to my family rather than the place itself, but I consistently find myself feeling not only comfortable but extremely sentimental as well whenever I frequent a Chinatown.
On top of that, a whole set of different memories are triggered when I step into an Asian bakery, as I spin back into my childhood in San Francisco. Every morning before school, my mom would stop into a bakery near Alamo Elementary and get two green onion rolls for my lunch that day. While I had slightly resented not having a "normal" American lunch everyday (sandwich, juicebox, fun snacks like fruit snacks and granola bars), the memories of walking into that shop every morning with the most important woman in my life are something that I would never trade for anything.