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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sobriety is a state of Original Sin

So said one of the three Irishmen I enjoyed a few pints with recently at the Smuggler’s Inn. Liam, “that Irish guy” in Zhanjiang, has met up with two of “his mates” from home, (specifically, two friends from his time with the Dominicans), and as I made the slow walk through Stanley back to the Maryknoll house late last night, I was called into the pub for a drink, which soon turned into five. All together it was a very Irish, very Catholic evening, it was funny as hell to hear these Irish guys rip on one another, and it was a good chance to have a good drink and a good chat with Liam and “his mates.”

Other day I made a helluva hike up the Wilson Trail, a well-trod path that snakes over the towering mountain-hill that silently mocks you every time you exit Maryknoll’s front door. I knew I would have to climb that damn hill one day, and after lunch last Saturday, the time had finally come. Peter, a fellow Maryknoll teacher and hiking/biking enthusiast, as well as Ted, one of Liam’s aforementioned “mates,” decided to join me. We at first intended to only climb to the “lookout point,” about three quarters up the mountain-hill, but decided en route to make the full climb (386m) to the top, followed by the slow winding descent to Repulse Bay on the other side. A great climb complimented with a soothing finish through the sandy bay.

My time in Hong Kong has dissolved like so much Kool-Aid in a gallon of water; only that sugary powder is time incarnate and that water is, like, Hong Kong, man. Take a minute, breath in the musk of that well-formed metaphor; savor it, taste the nuance; all right, we’re done.

Two weeks traveling in Cambodia and Vietnam stretch behind me in a gooey, memorable bubble of time, a two-week period where I saw enough to fill two months, and it almost feels like it was two weeks of another life, border-hopping and sightseeing and living out of a backpack. Now I’m back in China (well, still in Hong Kong, the Un-China, China Lite; I return to the mainland, the Real China, the “Original Recipe with Eleven Different Herbs and Spices and National Minorities” China), back to a routine, back to a lifestyle where I can plan very much ahead and know the bus schedules and anticipate what my trip into the center of Hong Kong will entail, and all that other pre-planned accident-proof modern-convenienced crap we put up with that takes the fun out of life.

Something feels lost. The spontaneity and carelessness of life on the road that I was really beginning to enjoy has been replaced with normalcy and familiarity. You can’t stay on the road forever, and traveling for too long would probably leave me feeling unhinged, but there’s still so much to see and do, so why come back and settle into that routine again?

Ah, but it’s a new semester, and it will be more fun than returning to any other job I could think of. And even as the wanderlust burns, I know I’ve been doing nothing here in Hong Kong, and I’ve been complacent and even happy of a week to just relax in Maryknoll with nothing to do but watch movies and maybe take a trip into SoHo or Lan Kwai Fong.

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