September 29, 2019

6 Month Update

I've lived in Hong Kong for six months now and this weekend I moved out of my first-ever Hong Kong apartment in West Kowloon to a new place on Hong Kong Island.

To be honest, I'm not even sure how to begin dissecting the past six months. Overall, it's been wildly positive—I love living in Hong Kong, the city is beautiful, the infrastructure is fantastic, and Tatler has just moved into brand new offices on the Southside (my office has a full greenery view). Whenever anyone asks me what I dislike most about living in Hong Kong, I... I can't really think of anything? I feel so lucky to find myself in my current living and professional situation, I have no real everyday-life complaints. (When did I become so boring? Who knows, maybe it's middle age.) It took a few months, but I think I really knew I made the right decision to move here just last week, when I was in New York for a few days and in Portland for a friend's wedding—and I really missed the feeling (or, maybe, how I feel?) of (in?) Hong Kong.

How do I feel? It's a mish-mash of stuff.

I feel like I finally have some distance and perspective from all the context that's been endemic in my personal and professional life since I was 5-years-old and moved to New York as a child. Sure, as an adult, I had to move halfway around the world to get it, but I think all the time about how there's no boundary between myself and New York: I am New York, New York is me, and all my lines feel blurry. My sense of self-actualization was late-blooming. You know those people who know exactly who they are and exactly what they want to do when they're, like, 16? I don't think I had any clarity around anything at all until I was at least 26, maybe 27 or 28. So even though I was lucky to have started traveling pretty intensely from the age of about 18, I didn't really know myself—I had no perspective on difference, on culture, or any self-awareness. When I think of my pre-26-self, I envision a personality blob. And it was probably those four years in grad school in England, away from New York, that really helped me chip away at understanding the beginnings of my sense of identity as an adult. In retrospect, I feel that Oxford was who I wanted to be, when in reality Central Saint Martins was who I really was. Now, years later, when I travel, and especially in these early days of living abroad (again), I understand my edges, where I begin and end and the liminal space between not only myself and the city, but myself and other people.

It's weird to be my age, living in a new city where I don't speak the dominant language, and not having any friends. But I think it's good? For now, at least. I don't know.

Friendship in the age of social media feels different to me than before. It's so much easier to keep up with people, you never really fall out of touch, because passive scrolling through someone's Instagram counts for something, I guess. So in a way, friendships don't wane as easily as they used to if someone stopped calling or writing, and I never really feel truly alone, even when I am. I did have a really jarring sad moment a few months ago when I signed up for a gym and they asked for an emergency contact and I realized I didn't have anyone in the country to list. But besides once-in-a-while moments like that, I feel OK. I've tried to mostly lay low, focusing on work, on cultivating one-on-one relationships with the rare people I feel might share a wavelength or worldview, and trying to find the tiniest bit of work-life balance by embarking on a personal physical wellness journey (more on that later this year).

So yeah, that's my high-level very vague summary of the past six months.

If there's one tl;dr takeaway from this jumble of thoughts/feelings, it's something I've noticed about how my mood has changed. When I lived in New York—my whole life, really—I always just felt a little bit... low, flat, maybe a bit like I was just going through the motions of growing up and then, later, working in offices. But here in Hong Kong, over the past six months, I haven't felt that at all. Now, instead of feeling the same every day? I feel free.