It was actually a simple reason why I left my hometown

P Chang
3 min readMar 26, 2023
The hometown sky was almost always gray. (Author’s photos)

It’s the air.

It is sad to confess that I am allergic to the damp thick occasionally high PM2.5 air of my hometown ever since I was born.

I had been a kid very prone to respiratory illness and easily developed into infections and high fevers and coughing. No I did not have asthmas but just simply drop dead high fevers and swollen throats and nonstop coughings for weeks.

No one back then could figure out the root cause and my super vigilant mom treated me with all kinds of herbal medicine to mend my infections and fevers.

One recurring childhood memory with my mom is alway that we got up very early and lining up in front all the well known hospitals in all the corners of the city to get to see some expert doctors to address my almost chronicle illness.

Then I went to another sunnier city in another province for my graduate school and I instantly became a very healthy person. I survived the two years study without a single time of illness.

Mom sighed and concluded that it’s the fate I was meant to live far away from my hometown and from them.

Then I moved to even sunnier and cleaner overseas and I became even healthier and happier.

Whenever I came back to visit my parents, my respiratory reaction always proved mom’s conclusion.

I would easily get sick at the end of each visit if it lasted more than ten days. The air felt poisonous and I subconsciously would slow my breath to a point I felt suffocated.

I just finished this last trip a few weeks ago. My hometown is so much cleaner and the air quality has improved so much that the AQI had been constantly under 100 under my watchful eyes while I was there for nearly three weeks.

But in the end, I still started that horrible feeling of being trapped in a suffocation air bubble and slowly losing my breath.

And I got sick once again.

This is why in last nine (- 3 COVID) years in my non-stop frequent flying back attending my parents’ medical needs, I made sure each trip always only last 5–7 days flying in and out.

Now mom finally followed dad to the heaven. So I no longer need to go back to my hometown on a frequent base anymore.

For the first time in my life now I came up this conclusion: I was actually allergic to the air of my birthplace, my hometown, a place my mom raised me literally as a single mom while my dad was forced to work somewhere else during my frequently sick first ten years of age.

It is a tragedy that I had this problem to a city with 5000 years rich history and culture and the one with the world wide famous culinary culture and food accessibilities.

But I would not trade it for the fresh crisp air I am breathing under the eternal California sun.

Author’s photo

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P Chang

It all started with the 2020 SIP, when suddenly you became very reflective.