You have been more to me than a checklist of cities, but if I had to use checkmarks, they would be in the shape of lightening bolts for the moments that were too quick to catch but still made a thunderous roar. You have thrown hailstorms and terrible timing at me along with everyday hallelujahs and souls that were too good for me to hold. You have been the opposite of restful, but the cure to my restless. You have taught this lover of words that there is a love beyond words. I leave you with sand in my shoes, chaos in my heart, and a little more understanding of why people do what they do. My suitcase is heavy. My heart is full.
Vancouver, I am ready to come home.
1. When I was a child, I told my grandfather that my favourite food was BBQ pork. Every single meal he has made me since I was 5 has had BBQ pork in it, even to this day. Every morning I have been here, he steams BBQ pork buns for me. Every lunch or dinner, there will be slices of BBQ pork on the table, which he will intentionally buy from the deli down the street. I think I like BBQ pork more because of this.
2. My grandfather has always been a man of service, but I have never received a gift from him until this week. He gave me two film cameras to take home with me, saying he wasn’t sure if they worked anymore, but I will keep them anyways.
3. When we were in Singapore, we went to the beach and I dipped my feet in the water. As we were leaving, I was about to put my sandals back on, but my grandfather stopped me. He bent over with a water bottle in his hands and offered to wash my feet so they wouldn’t be sandy when I put my shoes on. I wanted to cry, because my grandfather, who has never read a word of Scripture in his entire life, probably had no idea how Biblical that was. Sometimes people can be a lot like Jesus without realizing it.
To the adventurous souls of Hong Kong –
Go to Cheung Chau Island. Take the slow ferry (it’s cheaper and you see more when you take your time). Go with someone who has steady feet and a lion heart. Hike up to the Reclining Rock and find the hidden beach. Touch the ocean. Crawl into caves and look for treasure (but make sure you bring a flashlight). Go beyond the boundaries – they are there to be crossed. Share your heart on top of a mountain. If you get bug bites and cactus needles in your legs, it’s okay, you will live. If you find yourself in a den of spiders, it’s okay, you will live through that too. Eat at dingy diners and then go out and eat more at street food vendors (make sure you try fish balls and mango mochi). Ride bikes and remember that nothing else can replicate salty sea breeze. Drink iced coffees at the Rainbow Cafe, write down your dreams, and post them on the wall. Watch the sun set.
Thank you for showing me that Hong Kong is not a cement block – that there are parts still untouched by industrialization, that the Old Hong Kong my father knows still lives on somewhere, and that there are old ladies who shout blessings of good health over you as you walk away.
I first met Evelyn in my grad year of high school. She was fresh-faced and somehow seemingly unphased to be in a new school in a country she had never been to before. I was told to look out for her, but by the end of the week, she had more friends than me, winning people over with her sweet tooth smile and a boldness that I thought was beyond a 14-year old’s reach. Whenever I am in Hong Kong, I feel like she is the one taking care of me – teaching me over desserts and city lights that when there are shadows, there is sunshine somewhere to be found. She finds her courage in bringing the shameful out of darkness and learns over and over again how to choose forgiveness over leaving.