Looking south along Lower Cheung Sha beach on Lantau Island in Hong Kong, in the early afternoon of a warm February day, with a surfer walking along the water’s edge

I return from Singapore on Friday morning slightly sick, the last of our family to pass through this particular wave. The two early-morning late-night days on the road did not help, though they were useful in other ways.

My phone, reactivated, brings good news: partner and friends are at the beach on the other side of Lantau, celebrating a friend’s birthday. Come take your afternoon calls from the beach, they say.

In the arrival area I get coffee and am surprised by two other friends. They are just back from skiing in Korea, and still on holiday, only laying over here at home. They are headed to Thailand to meet a parent on vacation for the weekend. Chance encounters like these remind me of the number of friends we’ve made in Hong Kong, and how every one is on the go. It’s a good feeling, being part of this region, of Asia, of Southeast Asia, where everyone is back and forth constantly. Another Hong Kong friend is in Thailand this weekend, I say, for a frisbee tournament. They know, more than one actually. It is a coincidence of timing, of our collective pace.

Hong Kong’s airport is on the far side of Lantau, and normally I take the train back to Central, to my own island, and am home in an hour after landing. It’s a ride I know well, and have loved since long before we relocated. Today though I walk out into the cool humidity of the taxi stand and hunt the line of blue ones specific to this island. Red for urban areas, green for the New Territories, and blue for Lantau. Hong Kong’s system seemed weird, years ago. Now it’s just home, familiar. As the taxi grinds its way up the tall pass, over some of the highest parts of Hong Kong, I think about how lucky this is, to know the beach I’m going to well, to have spent so many afternoons there when the world was closed. We got a lot out of exploring Hong Kong, despite the sacrifices that left us with no where else to go. And now, with everyone bouncing around again we are able to do both, to bring people to the beach and see friends in foreign countries. It’s a good life.

After my calls, we walk along the sand together, looking up at the mountain. It’s top is shrouded in clouds, facing the sea. It’s wonderful to breathe the salt air, to rest a bit, and to heal. It’s wonderful to be able to celebrate the friends we love with little planning.

Welcome to:

Looking out from a hotel onto construction in Singapore

My colleague arrives in Singapore at nine am two days late. His original flight was canceled due to a blizzard. He’s understandably confused by the weather. Together we visit a customer and wander Tanjong Pagar without purpose. I am here to welcome him, to help him procure the essentials of life. Our list for the week reads like a modern life assembly kit:

  • Healthcare
  • Housing
  • Prepaid SIM
  • Guidance on taxes

These are not strange needs, nor are they hard to deliver. They simply require money, and some sense of the city. We will manage them before my flight home on Thursday evening. Call it fifty hours. It feels luxurious.

Welcome to:
The precipice between groundlessness and flight”

In the morning, briefly, I stand on the 27th floor of a hotel and look out at the rain. It’s a storm, but a lackluster one, and I’m sure there will be space for my sprint to the MRT in a moment. Singapore, for me, is an odd mishmash of memories. I remember standing under open pedestrian overpass in a true downpour, in the kind of tropical cloudburst that is truly rare in most climates. I remember looking down from the top of the with friends, relaxing in the air of what felt like amazing possibilities.

I think then of how many places we’ve looked down from, those friends, who just weeks ago climbed a Hong Kong peak with me, with whom I have stood on rooftops in Tokyo and New York. I think of how lucky we all are, and how long we have been so fortunate. Thinking this I pass on one of my core beliefs to my colleague, himself on his first such voyage.

It’s lucky to be flown to a new country for work,” I say, to get paid to learn a new place.

So here we are, wandering Singapore, working hard and searching for the building blocks of what will be his life. It’s not somewhere either of us expected to be, and yet it’s familiar.

These are the good weeks, I think, walking back to my room. These are the weeks we remember.

Quoted lyrics from Ani DiFranco’s Welcome To:’, from the 2003 album Evolve.