Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Hong Kong

Back “home” in Hong Kong. Back to the land of efficiency. I’m flooded with so many thoughts that I do not know where to begin.

This is my first visit back to Hong Kong (or Asia for that matter) since July 2009. I had avoided flying back since my accident for a number of reasons. The main ones were my concerns about the pain and discomfort of the long plane ride(s) and my mobility and how I would get around a place that is quite hilly. I worried about how I would deal with public transportation, walking up and down stairs in and out of the subway stations etc. Even though there are escalators everywhere here, you still need to walk up and down stairs to get in and out of the subway stations, and you generally need to walk around a lot more than in the U.S. I knew I would “manage”; I just didn’t want to feel extremely self-conscious (as I usually do about these things). I took the subway system and mini-bus today. Small victories, I guess. While I had to go up steps in my usual two-steps at a time with my leading leg, everything else went pretty smoothly. I was somewhat amused by a sign on a mini-bus that said “Please let the elderly and crippled sit at the front.” I think I've done a decent job of hiding that I have any kind of far. I also wonder whether people in Hong Kong are too self-absorbed and stressed out to notice these things.

I am having a very difficult time not completely losing it with my parents. I’m trying to be as empathic as possible, and I don’t have experience being the parents of someone in my situation. They are not the most laid-back of people, to say the least. They don’t really have a full understanding of my physical limitations or pain issues, either under-estimating or grossly over-exaggerating my ailments. My Dad was giving me a hard time about not eating much during the day, and when I told him that the reason I didn’t like to eat/drink much during the day when I am away from a bathroom was because I didn’t want to risk having an accident, I broke down into tears. His response was pretty stoic. I wonder if he thinks all this was something I chose to bring upon myself.

My Dad was chastising me about climbing. He thinks that going to the gym and golf are acceptable substitutes. I’ve been having an especially hard time not saying anything in retaliation to their thoughts that the feng-shui of where I was living contributed/was the cause of my accident.

My parents think I am a country bumpkin living in squalor. My parent’s home is so clean that you can eat off the floor. It is also much easier not to live in squalor when you have a domestic servant to do things for you. It’s been a long time since I had someone make my coffee (including heating up the milk) for me, ask me what I want to eat for dinner (and how I want my food prepared), wash, iron and fold all my clothing for me daily. I can see why it would be difficult to leave this kind of lifestyle, and I wonder why I couldn’t be satisfied or happier being waited on hand and foot. I’ve long realized it takes a lot more to make me happy and feel alive than the “average” person; but I still feel a bit wistful that I can’t be content living here. That being said, I love being able to go back and forth between different cultures and worlds. I love how international Hong Kong is, and feel fortunate to have grown up here.

I had forgotten how much more stylish Hong Kong people are than anywhere in the U.S. It is funny how much more dressed up I was when I was growing up here. I also feel a bit like a giant in the land of Lilliputians. In America I don’t feel terribly large, but my jacked upper-body especially, has me feeling uncomfortably big here. My Dad said something along the lines of “You’re not going out like that are you?” this morning, in reference to my hair and casual attire.

When I’m here, I find myself struggling even more than usual with notions of success. Growing up, I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to do as a profession, but I did imagine myself being a smartly dressed, stylish woman in a business suit, striding around the Central business district purposefully. Now, as I walk around in my Chacos and troll-doll hair in a sea of such women/people, I wonder what my life would have been like and what person I would have been like had I gone down that route. I'm not feeling particularly glamorous these days. It is difficult not to be filled with insecurity and doubts because I don’t have more to show monetarily or I don’t appear “successful” by many people’s standards. I try to tell myself that my depth of character and experiences are far more impressive than all this superficial stuff. But somehow, when I’m in this kind of environment, it isn’t.

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