Around five weeks ago I made the decision to leave the city that never blinks. It was a hard decision to make and an even harder one to explain. Now that I’ve been back in New Zealand for a couple of days, it seems like the right time to look back on my experience and my decision to leave.
Why did I leave?
Over a month ago, while fretting over whether or not to stay, I watched Caitlyn Jenner’s much anticipated interview with Diane Sawyer. I’ll be honest, transgender people seemed problematic to me before now. Unnecessary, selfish and strange, were words I might have used in the past, but I certainly wouldn’t use now. The interview made me realise that everyone has to live their truth, no matter how strange that truth might seem to other people.
Caitlyn’s truth has made me want to be more truthful.
Although you can hardly liken moving countries to having a sex change, I nonetheless have had to have many difficult conversations in the past month to explain my decision.
When I initially decided to leave I felt as though I had to lie.
There are many practical reasons for my leaving Hong Kong; financial (Hong Kong was an incredible financial strain on me), apartment related (my flat lease was ending) and family reasons drawing me back to New Zealand for a visit (we will soon be saying goodbye to the beloved family farm). These are reasons that I felt the need to cite every time someone asked me why I was moving on “so soon” and each time I couldn’t help but feel guilty. I felt guilty about leaving my job after my initial contract, saying goodbye to the wonderful people I met (Hong Kong has some of the kindest and friendliest people in the world!) and for flitting out of peoples lives as quickly as I arrived.
The real reason for my move is: I’m a traveler and a free spirit. I feel impatient to visit new places, meet new people and have new experiences. I want to move, to discover and explore. I’m often happier on the journey than I am at the destination.
Fortunately, though, when I began to admit that, actually, I wanted to leave, to travel and see new places, people are and were understanding. I’ve been overwhelmed by the supportive send off from my Hong Kong friends. Far from telling me I should think about my career or settle down, they have encouraged me to follow my dreams.
If anything I wouldn’t be surprised if I moved back one day.
Hong Kong shouldn’t take it personally, because it truly is a world class city, with all of the city life, adventure, nature, culture and energy I expected it to have and that any city lover, will love. It’s not Hong Kong; it’s me – I need a new adventure.
My favourite memories revolve around the wonderful, inspirational and just generally awesome people I met in the city. Whether locals or expats, colleagues or friends, I still find it hard to wrap my head around just how welcoming and open people are and it makes me feel sad that I had to say goodbye so soon… or at all.
In fact, there are so many wonderful memories that I was in turmoil for my entire taxi ride to the airport. I asked myself “do I really want to do this… again?” “Do I want to go through the trauma of moving somewhere new, of setting up bank accounts and phone plans, of finding a job and a place to live, of constantly feeling like an outsider?” The answer came to me on my eleven hour flight home.
To help get me to sleep, I decided to listen to some music. Coincidentally, the following track was the first thing I clicked on (having never listened to Cheryl’s album before):
Alan Watt’s speech (in Cheryl’s song) reminds me to feel empowered about following what I desire and the supportive comments from those that I now consider friends, reminds me to always tell the truth, however difficult it might be.
I am so happy that I experienced Hong Kong. Of the four cities, Hong Kong, while it’s challenged me the most, has also given me the most. When I initially left New Zealand two years ago (almost to the day) I didn’t know who I was, or what I wanted, I just knew I didn’t want to be afraid anymore. Now I feel the closest to knowing who I am and what I want. I have never been so interested to learn and grow. I’ve never read so much, had so many ideas for books, and had such a desire to really follow my curiosities.
Occasionally you stumble across a person, a place or an experience that changes your life forever. Hong Kong was that place for me. I owe the city the beginning of a new life and a new series of adventures.
Fortunately I have some time in a very quiet place to begin a new journey.
Until next time,