Five years later, I begin an update to this page not from an Asiana flight, but from a balcony in Tai Hang. Flowers are in full bloom here, in the spring of 2020. Hong Kong is still temperate enough to allow for open windows and the occasional hoodie. We are well into our second year here, still new residents but no longer agog. Our lives are not exactly settled, given the global uncertainty, but those details are not what this page is supposed to provide.
On each telling I cull from previous updates. The note from the prior two, that “I am enjoying the west coast,” is no longer true. Nor, sadly, is the line that “I have been fortunate enough to live in the United States as an adult during the presidencies of Clinton and Obama.” Leaving the country of one’s birth becomes both easier and more difficult over time. After the saddest election night in memory it took us nearly two years to find the next home, here in Hong Kong. There are no perfect places, but this city embodies much of what I have always loved in the world, a commitment to density coupled with open spaces, with water and mountains and an incredible airport, and with copious non-car transit options, from escalator to subway. Much of the last two years of our lives have been a love letter to this city, written day by day.
Writing this draft during the pandemic I am most shocked by the lack of airplanes overhead. For a boy who has loved them for decades and for a man who built a career and a life on globalization and travel, the quiet of the sky overhead is saddening. As I’ve written elsewhere, I hope very much that there is a way to maintain air travel while improving the climate. For my own part I have largely given up meat and the automobile as an offset, however imperfect, to the impact of what are all now prior flights.
As a boy from upstate New York I am happy to be again in Asia, to be at least occasionally able to speak Mandarin, and to once again have rain. The sudden tropical cloud breaks are an improvement over the gray drizzling days of my youth. Having lived in Houston, the weather in Hong Kong is not surprising. Compared to Shanghai and Tokyo the winters are mild, and compared to San Francisco every warm evening is a blessing. Mostly, I am lucky to know all these cities, and to be able to continue working on my goal of being at home everywhere.
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