Nothing is perfect and everything changes.
On my first father’s day, we walk through Tai Hang to a sushi spot we use for celebrations. There’s a specific kind of place we frequent for our own occasions, those moments we want to mark together as a couple. Most people have one, I think. For moments like promotions, birthdays, anniversaries, and just good days of freedom that require something more than the usual, yet still familiar. For these moments our tastes range to the esoteric, to the nice but not fancy. Since our move to Tai Hang in 2018, No. 13 Sushi Bar has hosted quite a few of these moments. With some quiet back alley seats, welcoming staff, and incredible tuna rolls we’ve spent enough evenings there to know exactly what we want before we sit down, and to have the staff remember our faces. Or we had. No. 13 is gone now. A sign on the door offers only a “lease expired, thanks for the good years” note that’s both cute and unsatisfying. I give a silent thank you to the staff as we turn away.
Wandering elsewhere for food we talk about change. Life, in so many ways, is change1. This first father’s day exemplifies that. Clara’s expressions just shy of a year are so much more than six months prior. People, like the places they construct, change over time, and the new can not come without loss. Fineprint, the coffee shop we used to live upstairs from, replaced something I can’t recall our first few months in the neighborhood, and now feels like a fixture.
Of course some of this change, like the loss of 2nd Draft, I’d undo if I could. We all have points of personal concern, and without everyone’s sacrifice nothing would change. And yet it would, because people age. The families that run the car shops will eventually turn over, sad as it is to consider. The dai pai dong’s too, as they have many times before. Neighborhoods will gentrify and fall into disrepute. Will they become inhospitable, or will they simply become home to a different clientele? In Hong Kong the answer is the latter, new housing displacing old walk ups, new restaurants with marble’d bars displacing old worn wood ones. Many of the new ones will fail, too ambitious, too fancy, too niche. And too few of them will be like No. 13, just expensive enough to have great fish, yet playing Eminem a bit too loudly to attract a truly posh set of patrons. Instead it was us and some other folk who liked loud dinners, a few families celebrating graduations, and the occasional casual business dinners over sake and cigarettes in the alley. I wonder where all those moments will happen now, and how long it will take all those other former customers to known of the closing.
To the staff, then, who took care of us for years as just part of the job, thank you. We’ll miss you.
Despite the inevitability, some changes we do morn.
“All that you touch
All that you Change
The only lasting truth
Olivia Butler, The Parable of the Sower↩︎