Xianggang

one last thing about hong kong, this city perennially fatalistic and scowling, before i go: i will always think about you, and be grateful for how you found me at the wrong time and made something right out of it. it is far from biographically accurate but in so many ways i feel like i was born here, and then ripped away, and then joined back with shoddy glue, feeling out of place and like a stranger as i watched myself live a parallel life to this city’s own. it sprouts new and dangerous heads and limbs each time i visit, biting at my ankles and forming a far cry from the hong kong i first made the acquaintance of in the early 90s– a hong kong full of roast pigeon, naivete, my mother’s sheer laughter and this red lacquered sedan chair that i would never come to see again. then there is the hong kong of the evening sun that oozed its yellow yolk all over The Peak; and subsequently… subsequently the curtains upon curtains of spacemen and an ever-expanding lifetime over the edge of reason. it was an era characterized by hope, by true belonging, and the accompanying anxiety that somehow, somewhere, someone is going to do something very wrong and everything that has been achieved so far will be for nothing.

each time i come back here i peel back an old layer of skin from my footpaths around this place, and realize how blind i once was to what the truer ‘hong kong’ is. everything that makes it tick is not what i thought it was. i was totally oblivious to the superficiality and rugged judgments that strung its people together. and i’d also constructed this false sense of myself that earnestly believed there was a place for me here. why? was it because hong kong is so magical? was it because i could spend all day deep in the lungs of tsim sha tsui or the paper-thin cracks of hollywood road’s antique stores? was it the beautiful people i met who talked so often about awakening the sleeping dragon of 1960s HK? but hong kong is so magical. it is altogether accessible (you can buy a plane ticket) and mysterious (so many dark secrets). it welcomes you but doesn’t confirm anything. if you are lucky maybe you will catch it on a vulnerable night, and it will spill something out its mouth onto your shocked soul. and, still lucky, you will have no choice but to carry it with you for the rest of your life, never telling a single person or even whispering it into a wall.

i am aware with each thing i eat here that i am having all my favorite local foods in a silent sort of farewell. i am laying to rest something that is enjoyable but painful, like love or deviance… it’s just that at the end of the day a city is just a city, and it doesn’t at all owe you the obligation of loving you back.

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