Home is great—of course it’s great, with its big refrigerators, friendly people, country roads, and my family nearby it was bound to be great. And though the adage always says “Home is where the heart is,” I’ve definitely left a little piece of my heart in Hong Kong.
Living alone in a country 8,000 miles away from my family taught me a good lesson on biting my lip and shoving down the tears. If I’d cried every time I was frustrated, sad, lonely, or upset in Hong Kong, I could have rowed my way back home, but instead I sucked it up and moved on. Thanks to this new-found ability to “cry without crying,” I’ve wiped away only a few tears since hopping on a plane at HKIA. The first time was when I found a card that my friend Jamie had given to me on the morning before I left. I’d tucked it away in my suitcase and forgot to open it until I started unpacking; when I finally slipped it out of the envelope, even the outside made tears spring to my eyes. “Cupcake Queen” the card boasted with a handwritten arrow pointing to it, saying “That’s you!” Inside, Jamie made a list of the top 10 reasons she’ll miss me, including:
#8 Ladies’ nights will be missing a very beautiful, intelligent lady…we’ll Skype you in.
#7 It will be difficult to find a fun travel buddy who stays as calm as you when the hotel power shuts off…mysteriously.
#2 Everyone will look at me weirdly when I shout, “It’s Friday, let’s get pregnant.” (don’t freak, Mom, it’s a youtube video called Damn You Autocorrect—go look it up, it’s hilarious!)
#1 You are truly one of my best friends in HK. You will be leaving a very empty spot here.
The next time I blinked back tears was when reading an article about the Graham Street Wet Market. For those of you that don’t know, a wet market is a street with fish – both dead and alive – sitting in Styrofoam containers, rank water streaming down the streets, butchers with fresh blood on their aprons and cleavers in their hands at the ready to chop up your dinner, and Cantonese being shouted over the din of the city. (Seriously, I’m tearing up just writing about it!) It’s a nothing spectacular street, but it’s the quintessential Hong Kong experience and the type of cultural detail that I’ll miss.
I also got misty-eyed when a song by Taylor Swift came on the radio. I don’t even particularly like Taylor Swift, but my students loved her and would sing her songs all the time. Insert sad face here…I miss my kiddos! And the last time I “cried without crying” was this afternoon when I watched a youtube video of Jason Mraz on Hong Kong. A huge group of us went to see him in concert in HK; that type of rendezvous with my friends is something that’ll be hard to beat living here.
Surprisingly, I also miss the food because it was just so damn healthy for you, my yoga studio because it was amazing and my push to do training, and public transportation – it’s honestly the best you’ll find worldwide. I love being home in Sycamore, but I think I’ll always find refuge in Hong Kong, too.