Admiralty, Hong Kong. October 5, 2014
This was a couple weeks into the protests and they were still in full force. I’d been avoiding the Admiralty area since the movement had first kicked off, after seeing coverage of the police violence that had gone down in the first couple days.
This was the first time I’d stepped foot in the area, accompanied by a local friend who urged me along. I was floored by the sheer size of the manifestation as well as the zealous energy running through the crowd of normally stolid locals. I absolutely had to capture the event. I ran home to grab my camera gear. Unfortunately I was down to my last 2 rolls of film and I kicked myself on the MTR ride all the way back to the protest site.
To make matters worse, a bottle of orange juice came unscrewed in my bag and leaked all over one of the film canisters, which I discovered two days later. So much for professionalism. The liquid leakage led to a pretty interesting, almost tin type effect which I may explore later on.
Thanskgiving. I should be spending this with my family.
What is it about this place that gets to me. I mean truly, profoundly irritates me to the core.
The people who seem to float around in a perpetual cloud of weed smoke, zig zagging in random (and painfully slow) trajectories in the street with their noses in their whatsapp/candy crush/ tinder/ insert BS here. Their blank stares when I shoot them a dirty look for not moving their asses in the MTR. Christ let’s not start about the MTR. If you’re going to watch a Korean drama on your mobile during rush hour, do it anywhere but in the doorway, asshat. No one ever seems to know what the fuck is going on. Ever. These people are forever confused. Maybe all the pollution in the air got to them.
Clearly I am the common denominator and therefore the problem. Me and Hong Kong just don’t jive.
It’s 7:45, chilly as fuck. The whirring of the passing motorcycles interrupts her thoughts. She starts from the beginning. The lines run over and over again through her head. She’s rehearsed them continually over the course of a forgotten length of time. Other than a slight variation in order, they remain more or less the same.
She knows she won’t go through with it.
She lists her grievances anyway. The forgotten anniversaries, the unreturned phone calls, the habitual lies. That buxom slut at the corner bar whose eyes knowingly linger a millisecond too long every time he walks in. Everything she doesn’t have the balls to walk away from. Maybe this time she’ll do it.
She woke up with a funny feeling in her gut that morning. The light was harsh and white. Thin beams of sunlight cut through the opening between the curtains, highlighting the fine cracks around around his eyes. It’d been a long time since she’d inspected him that closely. He’d aged a lot in the past few years. She traced her finger lightly along a wrinkle across his forehead. His breath was light and steady, pure peace all over his face. She sidled softly out of bed, careful not to wake him.
She called in sick. Stomach issues. Shrowded in somewhat of a trance, she headed out the door, not sure what direction she was headed in. In the street, something felt off in her steps as she deterred from her usual trajectory on that Tuesday morning. At some point she ended up at the edge of the bay in front of the ferry terminal. Her eyes scanned the list of destinations on the overhead hand painted board. Macau it was.
The sun’s gone down and neon signs illuminate her path. Her phone beeps, signaling that it’s got low battery. She checks the screen. No messages yet.
Her stomach is churning from hunger and she realizes she hasn’t eaten all day. It occurs to her that she could spend the night here and not come back for a few days. Let her thoughts air out a bit. She indulges in the idea for a minute before a low, laborious sigh escapes from her belly.
She knows she’ll get back on that ferry. She’ll trudge it back home and open the door and there he’ll be, barely looking up from his computer. She’ll halfheartedly throw a dinner together as he clicks away in is office. She’ll set the table and they’ll sit down in their usual places opposite each other. He’ll talk about himself, recounting his day in painstaking detail between bites as her mind drifts off. Her silence will go unnoticed as silences often do. At midnight they’ll lie down in bed, she on the left and he on the right. She’ll turn and face the wall as her mind slips away to some other time and place…the beach town of her childhood, fantasies of the life she would have had if she’d made a different turn here or there. Memories of happier times before this all started. And so it’ll go on.
This rhythm, however painful, has a powerful pull on her and she knows it.
She stops in her path and looks up at the glittering Grand Lisboa, it’s impressive height imposing itself onto the skyline, streaming lights shooting up the petaled towers. The strangeness and unfamiliarity of this backdrop has an oddly calming effect on her. The air is cool and moist, filling her lungs with a vapoury mist.
She takes one last look at the lights in the distance before turning back towards the street to hail a cab.
He’s been waiting to be plucked from this veritable hell hole for some time now. What once used to torture him has now diminished to a humming nuisance. The stink, the heaviness, and of course the Heat. It smothers his body in its fervent vapors, incinerating his lashes and drying up the last trace of moisture in his throat.
He doesn’t know what the afterworld will look like but he knows he’s headed there soon. Their faces play in reverse chronological order in his mind, occasionally shuffling backwards and forwards as he searches his memory. Long gone friends, distant uncles, lovers, people he hurt, the ones who he left. He’s forgotten some of their names. Most of them disappeared before he could say his apologies.
He straightens the brim of his cap, his grey hairs matted down to his forehead in sweat. This must be a good time to make his peace with God, if it was ever going to happen. He can’t think of what to say or how to put it. His regret may count for something.
He waits with an uncertain expectation, not knowing exactly how it’ll happen. He looks up to the cloudless sky, the heat waves melding the colors of late summer. He’s up next.