Let me start with my grandiose plans that I had for summer three months ago. I was planning on touring Europe; I was planning on staying in a castle with an international friend; I was planning on becoming a connoisseur of Eastern Asian foods; I was planning to be free. Welllllllll, plans change.

My parents ended up having urgent business come up in China. They didn’t tell me what it was but I suspect that it had to do with my recent grandmother’s funeral and our new move to New York. So we took a family trip back home, so much for my quest through the world. We flew out soon after I graduated in June. Although I was disappointed in my expectations being tossed, I was happy to go back home nonetheless.

It was beautiful, alien, and terrifying; it was a beautiful terrifying alien. My once poor hometown that lacked basic streetscape and technology had turned into an economic powerhouse. Cars, the first sign of wealth: a sight I had seldom previously seen. Beautiful roads that paved through the mountains while leaving the natural unscathed. Brands like Apple, Samsung, Porsche, LG shining through the night leaving the surrounding brandless empty and unappealing. American wealth was shining in my city and here I was, in awe yet terrified.

There was so much technology but what did this mean for the poorer communities like the one I grew up in? Would the inflation be detrimental to those with low income? Would the children of my generation be trapped by the many allures of technology? Would our analog traditions be lost to the digital revolution? Was I going to be one of the last who would have the true chinese experience: an experience that consisted of walking home through mazes of unlit suffocating alleys by memory, sharing meals together with everyone in the community, playing soccer with worn balls and cheap air balloons, and thankfully eating food with the occasional fly or cockroach.

Such things weighed on me, but in the end I just enjoyed my time back. I embedded the taste of the foods from my childhood remembering the nostalgic memories of an old life passed; I hiked and conquered the unchanging mountains inhaling the fresh, untainted air back into my being; I gazed into the eyes of the many homeless and reminded myself of my American privilege; I restored my identity from days past and renewed the pride in my heritage and inheritance.

So there it is. Never would I have thought that the home I once knew would be gone. That was terrifying. But regardless, it’s where my past family generations have labored all to prepare for the future, me, to reach my status today; regardless of its change, I will still call it home. That’s what’s beautiful.