Homesick

A couple of weeks ago, just past midnight on July 5th, I took off out of Hong Kong, flew across the Pacific Ocean, crossed the International date line and arrived in Los Angeles at 10pm on July 4th. 

There are few approaches during my ten year career I can think as memorable as that one. It was like descending into a war zone. Thousands upon thousands of fireworks going off as far as the eye could see. A lurid display, the likes of which I’ve never seen. We descended right over the city with fireworks going off either side as we came into land. What an entrance it was!

What you Americans were celebrating, of course, was your independence. You were celebrating what that independence stands for: freedom. As I reflected on this, while forced to quarantine in an airport hotel room for the next 48 hours, I started to feel homesick. It’s a feeling I’ve been having a great deal recently. Which is strange, given Hong Kong is the place I call home. Given “home” is the one place I’ve actually been able to spend time in. So what’s going on? Why, exactly, have I been feeling homesick? 

Part of the reason is I’ve felt imprisoned at home in Hong Kong. While I get to be with my wife and kids (something I’m extremely grateful for), I’ve never felt further from the rest of my family in the UK and elsewhere. This is because Hong Kong’s strict quarantine restrictions, although successful in keeping the place safe, have made it nigh-on impossible to see them. I’m also someone who has always felt “at home” while travelling. I like to think of the world as my home. I love nothing more than exploring it. The inability to do that has, well, hit home for me.

With that aside, the main reason I’ve been feeling so homesick is because I’m heartbroken. When I think about the changes that Hong Kong has undergone politically – this past year especially – the place that I have long called home simply isn’t the same. Freedom of speech has been stifled and many are living in fear. Many have fled as a result. Many others are planning to. You can feel it too. They have taken a stick to Hong Kong. Just like beating a child, its spirit has been crushed. 

One of the main reasons I write under a pseudonym is because of what’s going on here. Whether my paranoia is justified or not I don’t know, but the fear is real. Many people have been arrested for speaking out. Colleagues of mine have been let go because of comments made on social media. One of Hong Kong’s biggest Independent papers was shut down just a few weeks ago. The nails being hammered into the coffin keep coming. Make no mistake about it, 2047 has come early. Hong Kong’s special position as a bridge between East and West – a place that once reflected the best of both – has been broken. 

Sometimes I still feel like a local Hong Konger. I’ve spent most of my life here after all. There is no place on this planet I know more intimately. A place that has given me so much. Hong Kong will always hold a special place in my heart for that reason. Yet, nowadays, I feel increasingly removed from it. 

Of course I have always been, and remain, an expatriate. Never a “true-blue” local. The plus side to that is I have options. I don’t have to stay here in Hong Kong. I can leave if I want to. It’s this question in particular – whether or not I should – that has really been plaguing my mind. 

I liken it to being stuck in that hotel room on July 4th. There was nothing stopping me form walking out that door. The only reason I didn’t was because of what my head was telling me. That I could get fired or contract COVID… My head was telling me that it’s best to be safe. It’s best to stay put. My heart, on the other hand, wanted nothing more than to say, “fuck this”, and walk straight out of that hotel room door and join the celebrations. 

I’m homesick because I don’t feel at home in Hong Kong anymore. My values have diverged from the place. Yet my head is telling me to stay put. Not to leave the security of my job, my pay check, etc. However my heart is longing for somewhere (and something) else. They say that home is where the heart is. I get it now. Home is where your heart feels it belongs. My sense of belonging here has been eroded. I don’t believe it will be long before I gather my belongings and head straight out the door for good.

Freedom, is calling me home.


(Thanks for reading everyone. This post got me thinking about the meaning of home. Let me ask, what does home mean to you? For someone who has always felt “at home” on the road, the pandemic has, paradoxically, left me feeling homesick. I’m curious if many of you have felt the same way? As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.)


***

You can find more of AP2’s writing here at: https://pointlessoverthinking.com

33 thoughts on “Homesick

  • That’s a tough situation with what’s going on in Hong Kong right now. Even when I’ve travelled in the past and a form of home was wherever my backpack was, I always had the anchor of real home. It would be so hard to feel like that anchor was being cut off.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes it’s tough alright. Still we are lucky to have options elsewhere in the world. We have in many ways a number of anchors. We might just have to let this one go however. Thank you Ashley 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  • Home is where the heart is. Could be a person or place. It’s all about feeling comfort. Sometimes, we have to override such feelings because logic tells us that in the long run it will be better. Security plays an important part of a person’s life, and keeping it in intact can require a few sacrifices. But yes, when finally pushed to edge, it seems better to rebel and just let the heart guide you.
    Freedom is such a beautiful word.
    It means different things to different people. But the essence is liberating.
    One has to play one’s cards right. After all, life is a gamble. But living it meaningfully and happily is the best mantra. So, follow your instincts. Living in fear and despair will just kill you.
    Thanks for sharing this. Good luck to you. Hope you find your true path. 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  • For me, home is having roots that you can return to at anytime, knowing who you are but most importantly having both a place and home team of people to embody that. Physically present somewhere to ‘have your back”. Belonging, as you said. Living on the road for me means going without belonging, and it’s become almost insurmountable. The body and psyche need a feeling of home – stability, acceptance, etc – as a prerequisite to the higher levels of Maslov’s hierarchy of human needs, so yeah, home is important.

    Liked by 4 people

  • So well expressed, AP2. HK is obviously going through extremely tough times at the moment, and it’s hard to imagine that it’s going to go back to same old, same old, although hopefully some sense of calm will return. It may – or may not – be helpful to realize that there are many Brits and Americans feeling that they don’t recognize their country anymore and don’t like what they see. Or South Africans. What a tough time we’re in. Home really is where the heart is. 🙏

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you Jane – we certainly live in strange and unsettling times. I believe Home is rooted in one’s sense of security – I suspect this has a great deal to do with what you’re talking about. The truth is no home every stays the same. The landscape is always changing. Even when we leave our home after a long period away, what we come back to isn’t necessarily the same place. When we find the anchor we used to call home has moved permanently it can be very unsettling indeed. Unfortunately the rate of change is only going in one direction. Learning to be at home within oneself is perhaps the most important thing all of us could be working on. To first know who we are and where we stand regardless of place or circumstance. Thank you for reading and commenting Jane. I sincerely hope you’re well – and feel at home wherever you are/end up. 🙏

      Liked by 4 people

  • An excellent post son. Sentiments well expressed. Mum & I to, malign what has happened to that wonderful place we all love, Hong Kong. We still miss it but see such sad changes when we return. When the time is right, & you will know, follow your heart. Much love.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks dad. It’s been very sad times here indeed. Of course the landscape never stops changing wherever we are. That is always a little unsettling. Learning to accept change is perhaps life’s most important lesson. It is also its hardest. Love back to you and Mum. X

      Liked by 2 people

  • “Home is where your heart feels it belongs.” So rightly stated, AP2. I’m sorry to hear about all the changes taking place in the land you’ve been calling home. It’s difficult to feel and see the changes. Freedom is such a precious, sweet, and wonderful thing–it’s something I wish for everyone. It pains me to know so many live without it and to see it eroding away where you are. I wish you and your family the best. Keeping you all in my thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

  • AP, every time I see Hong Kong in the news, I think of you and am concerned for you and your family. This is a very touching account of how the changes have affected you. I visited Hong Kong in 1990 and wondered what the transfer from Britain would bring.

    Yesterday, I was going through my earring collection and found the gold earrings I had bought when I was in Hong Kong. I decided to pass them along to my daughter who has blonde hair and looks great in gold. I thought of you then. I hope you will find a place that feels like home to you. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Cheryl. I appreciate your sentiments. As long as I have my family with me, I have my home. I just want to make sure I place that home in the best possible place for them. Wishing you well 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  • Change is inevitable… it happened years ago when England assumed (?) control… and there were those at the time who didn’t like it… and it was to be expected, when China resumed control of its territory, there would be those, who wouldn’t like it…

    I think the main problem was a question of perception… England wanted to have its cake, and eat it too… on the face of it, give up the territory like a benevolent parent of principle, yet still retain it as a de facto colony… and fed this Alice in Wonderland fairy tale to a populous that was overcome with a sense of rootlessness…

    This was never going to happen…

    This is not the China of old… she has teeth… and England’s teeth are soaking in a tumbler beside her cot…

    Anyone who felt, that at a particular date… at a particular time in the distant future… things would suddenly run as smooth as the ink on the paper of the agreement, was living in a fools paradise… because nobody spoke the absolute truth at the table… nobody!!! What they all did, was practice the devious art of diplomacy…

    To keep a semblance off, if not stability itself, change must be gradual… and I believe China has calculated from the very beginning, that since it was dealing with the forces of negation, that change would take approximately 50 years…

    So China is on schedule… maybe even a tad, if that, early… but just a tad…

    If you do decide to leave… I don’t expect you to do so at the drop of a hat… you would pick a date in the future, but you would not be sitting back, and just wait for that date, you would be planning meticulously, so on that date, everything would run smoothly, and to your advantage…

    I wish both you… and HK well…
    🇯🇲🏖️

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree – I think the writing was on the wall from the beginning. Hong Kong was always a sitting duck. That doesn’t stop it from hurting of course. The pandemic was too good an opportunity for them to introduce their new security law and crack down on dissent – which they have done in a major way. They are approx 25-years ahead of schedule if you ask me.

      We are formulating our plans to leave. As you say, we won’t simply do so at the drop of a hat unless things got particularly dicey.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and for your well wishes. I wish you and Jamaica well too! Perhaps we should head there? They seem a little more relaxed about things. 🙂🙏

      Like

      • If you are thinking of Jamaica… no difficulty… the door is open, and will remain open, because we throw away the key… but we are not as laid back as you might think… there is a militancy about us that we struggle to keep under control… it’s in the music, and our art, and the backbone of our love for sports… in fact, we consider ourselves the ones the other Islands, and the United States couldn’t control… so come on over, have a holiday… them make up your mind…
        🇯🇲🏖️

        Liked by 1 person

  • Here we are again with logic telling us what it thinks is best, but I think you’ve reached another ‘gut feeling’ moment here, and I’m rooting for you no matter which decision you take. Wishing you all the best!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, exactly. How long can one keep ignoring their gut until it comes back to haunt them? Thanks for popping by Stuart. I appreciate it 🙏

      Like

  • My husband and I have been talking about the situation in HK. I felt your pain reading this. I’m sorry. I’ve had to make some really, really tough decisions throughout my life but in the end everything was ok. Getting to the ok was tough though. I wish you all the best as you walk this journey.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Life is tough. I take solice in the fact that we have a choice. Many don’t. I’m also reminded of a quote from Tim Ferris (I think) who said, “Easy choices = difficult life. Difficult choices = easy life.” I know what I must do. I’m working to make it happen for my children. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and for your warm coments. Wishing you well🙏

      Liked by 2 people

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