A way to see

In the light chill of Hong Kong’s winter I again learn how to see. After yoga on a Friday I get breakfast at a diner. The restaurant’s front is open to the street, letting the weather sweep in. I wear a hat while eating, but no jacket. The warm food feels good. It’s that kind of cold.

My legs are tired, and I am glad to sit still. These moments, freshly clean after early morning exercise, with no place particular to be, are some of the best. The world has opened up before me the last few weeks, and I feel great. I am able again to appreciate the beauty of Hong Kong, the convenience of dense urban living and the lucky life we have built. I once again take note of things, finding new joy in awnings, in second floor shops, in light on laundry drying on rooftops. I take joy in the varied styles of Hong Kongers, from super urbane to bankers, from those out for a run to the utilitarian workplace garments of off-duty kitchen crew. I appreciate the space this city offers for everyone, even when we’re scant meters apart.

On a Tuesday evening I’m asked a question that stumps me still, a week later.

What do you do in your time off?”

We are sitting on a stretch of corner outside a bar that will close too soon for my liking. I hope this bit of corner maintains it’s importance as the neighborhood hangout. These scant square feet of board and brick are the place to meet on a Friday, to chat on a Tuesday, or to sit around with the dogs on a Sunday. Tiny community centers like this are rare and valuable. Our corner is known all over the city as a neat neighborhood spot”.

What do I do in my time off?

Certainly not write, or not publish, enough, as this site will attest. Not work, though I put in a half dozen hours a week on paid projects and the same amount on hunting what’s next. Not work out, though I do most days, for an hour or so. Not see friends, though likewise I do at least a few times a week, a morning climbing, an afternoon in the park, or an evening chat. Not read, though I do that almost every waking hour, intake news or novels or blogs or newsletters or magazines. Not chores, though I do laundry and the dishes every day, clean the bathrooms once a week, clean the cat’s accouterment daily, and vacuum twice a week. Not hang out with my partner, as she’s at work nine hours plus a day.

What do I do in my time off?

Mostly try to keep my eyes open. It’s easy to nap.

For later

Looking towards Kowloon in the fog

I will remember this winter of 2022 I expect. Every morning I make tea and look out the window at Kowloon. This morning city is strangely foggy, closed off, quiet. There are no runners on the track, no tennis players on the courts. Few folk are out. I cannot see the ICC across the harbor, one of the world’s tallest buildings ghosting me. Neon on other TST rooftops is still on, bleeding though the fog with vague appeals.

This is a rare view of Hong Kong, a city usually bustling and humid. I am grateful for the quiet moments, as they match my life, unemployed and awaiting great change. By the peak of summer’s heat everything will be different, our lives, work, weather, this room, the fact that I sit wrapped in a blanket.

These quiet mornings the past two years have given me time to think. I’ve wasted much of it on reading news and random things, and still around the edges the quiet hours have done their trick. I’m happy here, in the house before it wakes, with my brain before it does likewise. I am glad to tend the cat and put away dishes, to make tea and then watch the treetops of Victoria Park, looking towards the harbor. Even the cockatoos are silent today. Usually they wheel about at seven thirty sharp, expressing their opinions of the morning to the world in loud voices.

The only reliable motion is the trundling busses, double decker ones and mini ones, back and forth on King’s road and up the hill. I love that the only sound is public transportation. There are people out of course, this is a dense urban center, but no more than twenty or so visible, scant different here at seven from two am this morning. There are always ten people visible from our seventh floor apartment. This is Hong Kong and we are never alone.

I wonder what this room will feel like in July. I wonder what my mornings will be like in the heat? Will I run AC in here or ensure the mornings? What did I do last year? It’s hard to remember the same as always. I got this chair in June. We gave away the couch that had occupied this spot some time later. The shapes of prior furniture come back to me, vaguely, but not the feel of their coverings on my skin. Years later and I am still confused by the changes in weather.

Enjoy the dark days

In Hong Kong, in early February, the world is gray enough to feel like winter. Sometimes the sky drips, and sometimes the fog lingers on the hills. It’s a brief sensation that will be forgotten by the month’s end. As a child of wintery climes, I take comfort in the cycle of seasons, and am glad of these dark days. Pulling on shirt, pants, socks, and hat before making tea is a rare requirement in this city. Having nights be cold enough that the cat wants to snuggle happens but a few times a year. I pad through the unlit house and have to turn on the light when I reach the kitchen as the window, though uncovered, adds no light to the room. These small changes and the brief moment they occupy remind me of our lives in other places, and I treasure them.

Hong Kong will not hold this weather for long, nor the feeling of winter. At seven thirty, as they always do, the cockatoos swirl through our small neighborhood squawking. Entirely tropical birds with incredibly loud opinions and silly plumage, they dispel the idea of true winter with their daily arrival. As the world lightens the density of foliage on the hillside and the park, unchanged from summer, makes it clear that this is no northerly place. The thermometer, were I to look, would say 16 degrees, hardly cold. And yet these are the days for fleeces and puffy vests, for wool hats and socks inside.

We take what we can get, and enjoy each moment we are aware of the variety.