Convoy: Forever My Safe Haven

Convoy: this street in San Diego that I have always found myself going back to for all it’s given me. There continues to be this enchanting presence of multiple aspects of Asian culture and enthusiasm when my family and I visit on occasional weekends. Our trips have nearly become a tradition and have given me this underlying sense of identity without me realizing it until recently. Not to mention, it’s one of the very few places I haven’t gotten tired of after living in the same city all of my life.

An eclectic paradise that has been a treasure for the Asian community in San Diego and a wonderful opportunity to come together and build an authentic community has more recently been declared a district. In fact, it is one of the largest Pan-Asian districts in the United States. This vast street was more than it appeared on the surface and I was ecstatic to hear people recognizing it for once.

Growing up, one of my earliest memories was going to the Japanese market and buying these amazing snacks and Sanrio trinkets. My sister and I would always be so excited to go because it was one of the rare times we saw a part of ourselves near our home. We grew up coming from two cultures: our mom’s Japanese heritage and our dad’s Pakistani heritage. It was a rude awakening when we realized we knew slim to none about either of our parent’s cultures, but we then reflected upon those hundred adventures that began when I was three and she was ten where we discovered comfort in marketplaces where we indulged in yakisoba and tempura together.

With time, my experience on Convoy and its deeper purpose have evolved. I used to find myself visiting for some amazing taiyaki ice cream and a nice weekend with my family, but more recently, it has been a muse for my passion for photography and writing. There is a serenity about the way nod when you pass by in the market aisle and beauty about how it all came to be.

In the 1980s, small shops began to pop up around the area which progressively grew into a multi-generational center for diversity and culture. It seems that Convoy street is ever-growing in the pursuit of inclusivity.

More recently, in high school, I’ve met some amazing people from leadership positions I’ve held in Key Club. These people knew all about the best spots at Convoy and understood why it was such a prideful place for Asian Americans in San Diego. At our monthly leadership meetings, we would bond over these wonderful boba spots we knew of or send photos to each other of the unique things we’d find on our adventures. I thought no one in my sub-city of Carlsbad would relate to my experience, but I finally found what I’ve been looking for: understanding.

If it wasn’t for Convoy, my mom would not have been able to introduce wonderful meals to me from her culture and my dad would not have been able to learn more with my sister and me. I’ve made these wonderful memories with my dad when we’d go sit at the Mitsuwa dining hall, drawing on napkins as we waited for our udon while my mom would shop. It made my mom so happy to find her favorite foods to bring back home and give to my grandparents. Our whole family beamed with joy when we would go and it’s one of the few things I remember from childhood that’s continued to be a great joy.

As an Asian American, saying it’s difficult to find a true form of identity in your culture is an understatement. But I assure you, what you’re looking for has been with you all along and you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. Everybody has their very own Convoy, you might just not realize it quite yet.

Edited by Nadia Razzaq

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