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Published: June 10th 2017
Geo: 22.33, 114.18
Everyone else on our tour left early this morning, but my flight wasn't scheduled to leave until after 6PM so I still had the morning to play in vibrant, beautiful Hong Kong. Their parting evoked a flashback to another tour's leaving; when our Australia/New Zealand group ended the same thing happened: they all left together on the same early morning bus, but since I was traveling again to Cambodia, to the AIDS orphanage to volunteer for another month, my flight left in the evening and I still had the whole day to play in Sydney, my explorations again on my own. Both times I cried once everyone else left. It was a release; it felt like pulling off a scab, only these were torn from my heart. Transitions --not to something, but away from-- have always been difficult for me, even when I was a child. When I was two years old, and my dad would leave for wherever he went back then, my mother said I would sit in my little rocking chair for days, facing the door where he left, and would not eat or sleep or do anything except watch that door until he returned. Such determination and connection in a small child show something, but I think I have always understood that nothing is permanent, and it hurts when people we love disappear.
So I had the gift of this extra morning. My original thought had been to visit the Art Museum, but I really wanted to see more of the Hong Kong area, and to be outdoors. Because some of us had ventured to Lantau Island the day before I had missed going to Stanley Market with Johnny and the group, so I decided to see how this market compared with the markets I knew so well when I lived in Thailand and Cambodia, and set out on the #6 bus. Oh, this ride past Repulse Bay convinced me I could have stayed here for at least another half year, living near this gorgeous ocean, absorbing this incredible beauty, becoming a part of it! After jerking along in the bus through the city I had not expected anything like this, and yet in some part of my brain I knew I had read about this place, seen photos, and just tucked it all away as somewhere to travel someday. Here I was! But there was not enough time today to go both to Stanley Market and to spend time swimming and reveling here. I would have to return.
Stanley Market was similar to many markets I had frequented in other parts of Asia, but having to keep track of the time dampened the pleasure of leisurely exploring all the nooks and crannies. But, wearing no watch, I create the opportunity of interacting with locals by simply asking the time; a few glimpses into their lives frequently follow from there. I met a couple who are to be married in September and are closing up their shop and moving to Great Britain; we joked about how cold they are going to be. I met a smiling mother and her daughter who were on their way to visit relatives. I met a very old lady who thought I was a local and asked me for directions. Yes! I'd been identified as a local. How extraordinary--and perhaps prescient! But, all too soon I knew I'd have to head back; there were still things I needed to do before finally leaving for my return flight back to the States, back to the place that was currently my home.
So I took the returning 6X bus, hungrily looking out at stunning Repulse Bay as we sped by, alighted at Wan Chai, walked a few blocks in the gorgeous, sweltering heat and turned in my Octopus card, sadly exchanged my Hong Kong dollars for US money, and finished packing. It was over. Everyone else on this trip was already firmly ensconced in airplanes winging their ways back to their comfortable lives; soon it would be my turn even though I was not ready to return home. I did not want to leave--I had only been gone a little over three weeks, not nearly long enough for continuing global explorations, but my return had been planned and was expected. This time there would be no wandering around the world for months at a time after this tour as I had done in previous years. Summer is almost here and Maine is best in summertime, plus we have our "work" at Acadia National Park, climbing the summits and counting and directing hikers. This next school year I will spend time in Madrid with my youngest, but maybe I will also dovetail those visits with volunteering at orphanages in Bali, in Sri Lanka, and/or in India that I didn't quite get to this past year. But I do know that I can't spend another winter in Maine, wondering what I should be doing at this point in my life-- and where I should be doing it. Roots and wings: my roots have become potbound. Past time for replanting.
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