Finding Home

Dalhoff Thomas design studio’s newest team member Michelle Ye weighs in on her experiences moving to Memphis.

I always have trouble answering the question, “Where are you from?” When I was young, my parents worked hard to chase educational and career opportunities. We moved from Shenzhen, China, to Arkansas, Washington, Indiana, New Hampshire, Florida, and North Carolina. As a result, I’ve lived a fragmented childhood, always either adjusting to a new place or getting ready to say goodbye. After settling down in North Carolina, I spent the majority of my life there where I attended high school and college before moving to Memphis to join DT at the end of May. But since I had been used to moving around so much, it was hard for me to ever call any place home.

That’s why I was so surprised when, on a road trip back to Memphis from North Carolina, I found myself thinking “I’m so glad I’m going home.” I ended up driving the entire 12 hours back, only stopping for gas. Why was Memphis so easy for me to attach to?

One of my favorite things about Memphis is its diversity. I’m a social butterfly who thrives on new people and new experiences, and I’ve definitely been taking advantage of all the fun events, yummy restaurants, and artsy scenes here. Memphis has a balance of big city excitement and small town closeness, which means that I’ve been able to fit in and feel welcome with many different groups of people. The diversity of the people in Memphis is coupled by the diversity of its urban spaces. Even just within downtown there are several districts with unique vibes. I’ve had great times exploring South Main on Trolley Night, or just grabbing food truck tacos and sitting by the river listening to the tunes of 901 fest. Midtown has a lot to offer as well, whether it’s jamming to some great bands at the Levitt Shell, doing yoga in Overton Square, or playing trivia at local restaurants. I also love traversing the outdoors at Shelby Farms and nearby state parks.

Another thing that continues to draw me me into Memphis is its positive energy. From day one, chatting with the Uber driver who took me to my job interview, to watching the owner of a local Ethiopian restaurant prepare traditional coffee, I’ve been so inspired by the amount of passion people have for life. Everyone here seems to be involved in something they care about deeply and wants to share their enthusiasm and authenticity with their community. My absolute favorite thing is exploring the city and stumbling upon an art piece in an unexpected place that screams “I LOVE MEMPHIS!” 

I’m fortunate to be working at DT where I’m able to spread my love of the city through creation of public spaces. Memphis is undergoing a transformation with new urban infill projects, greenway connections, and community-driven activism. I can’t think of a better place to begin a new chapter of my life.

What makes you feel "at home" wherever you are?