From Hong Kong, With Love

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I’m pretty much in disbelief that this upcoming autumn will mark 5 years since I relocated to Hong Kong. How has it already been half a decade? I have now lived in Hong Kong longer than I have collectively lived in New York City, which blows my mind. It seems nearly impossible. I initially relocated here to spend more time with the beau, who first came to live in Hong Kong with his family when he was 6-years old. The beau has lived in Hong Kong since 1990, with a couple of years in Canada and Australia for school in between, so this has always been “home” to him.



I had always hoped that Hong Kong would one day be “home” to me, too. The beau first brought me over to Hong Kong in September 2019, which was early into our relationship, and I remember being in awe of it all. Hong Kong was my first introduction to Asia. I was excited by the fast pace but relaxed feel of the city, the towering skyscrapers set against the towering mountains, my first taste of Cantonese cuisine, and the lingering smell of jasmine in the air. When the beau asked me to spend more time with him here, it felt crazy to say yes so soon, but I was ready for an adventure.

I was never supposed to officially live in Hong Kong full time for the first few years. I initially relocated to Hong Kong in November 2019 with the intention of splitting my time between southeast Asia and the US. For the first few months that I was in Hong Kong, it was absolutely wonderful getting to know the city that I had wanted to adopt as my new home. Besides exploring the city, Hong Kong is the perfect gateway for exploring more of Asia, so the beau and I were easily able to hop on a plane and explore Japan, Cambodia, and Vietnam in my first couple of months. I even joined the beau on a quick work trip down to Australia just a few days before Christmas and was able to spend two weeks in the US with friends and family. A few of my things from the US arrived in moving boxes a couple of weeks later, so I was able to continue settling into the beau’s apartment and spend time with his Italian Greyhound – Argos.

And then everything changed. The whole entire world came to a standstill when the COVID-19 pandemic was officially declared in March 2020. The beau and I were in London at the time, preparing to leave for Heathrow to board our flight to Reykjavik for my 30th birthday, when we realized we needed to make a decision – and fast. Continuing with my birthday trip was out of the question, but I needed to decide if I was going to return to Hong Kong with the beau that day or fly solo to the US (the US was closing their borders to non-residents at the time, and the beau is not a US citizen). There wasn’t much hesitation – I chose to return to Hong Kong with the beau. I had sold my home in Los Angeles after my ex-husband and I split, so I didn’t have a home to return to. Plus, I worried that if the US was closing their borders to non-residents and non-citizens, then Hong Kong would follow suit shortly after. That would mean that the beau and I could be forcibly separated for an unknown amount of time, and we wanted to remain together. We flew back to Hong Kong together, and just two days after we arrived, Hong Kong closed their borders to non-residents (which at the time included me). We had made it back just in time.

Naively, we assumed the pandemic would not last this long (to date, the pandemic has not been officially declared over). We believed that by the end of the year, things would start to get better. Of course, that was certainly not the case, and looking back I should have never assumed that. The beau and I became engaged in the comfort of our little apartment during the first year of the pandemic, which brought us and our families some much needed joy. We had been hoping to have a family wedding in Hong Kong when the pandemic eased, but as time went on we realized that was probably not going to happen when we wanted it to.

As you probably read from news articles published around the world, Hong Kong was extremely strict with their restrictions during the pandemic. Not just with regards to travel, which was highly discouraged and purposely made extremely difficult, but also with restrictions within the city. It got to a point that most days, for two and a half years, I remained indoors from sunrise to sunset, occasionally opening our living room and bedroom windows for fresh air. I wasn’t getting to spend my days exploring Hong Kong, instead I spent my days staring out our windows if I wasn’t engrossed in my hundredth marathon of The Office. Many times I found myself thinking I couldn’t do this anymore, that being separated from my family and not being able to properly do my job was taking a big toll on my mental health. And yet, I stayed. A lot of my friends and family (and some of my readers) thought I was crazy to stay. Maybe it was crazy, but I am madly in love with the beau and couldn’t fathom leaving him (his career is here in Hong Kong and not easy to transfer). I also did not want to give up on Hong Kong. I just knew there had to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

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Lafayette 148 NY blazer (old, similar here, here, and here) // Susana Monaco crop top (more cropped version here) // The Frankie Shop skirt // Vans sneakers // Gucci sunglasses (old, similar here) // Polene bag (also available pre-loved here)

Instead of returning to the US, I cemented myself more and more in Hong Kong. The beau and I married in a tiny ceremony at City Hall with just his parents present as witnesses, I adopted another Italian Greyhound from a sweet family, I became pregnant and gave birth to our little bean right here in Hong Kong, and I’m just a couple of years away from officially becoming a HK permanent resident (I’m currently a non-permanent resident; little bean became a HK permanent resident at birth due to being born in Hong Kong). Shortly after little bean’s birth, Hong Kong reopened to the world and lifted all restrictions. Now I wasn’t a visitor, I was a resident, and a mother of a Hongkonger. The city felt like both an old friend and a new wonder. It has been a joy to get to properly explore Hong Kong again, either on my own or with little bean in tow, and get to know this city even more. I have been exploring different corners of this vast, diverse city. I have been able to make new friends and I have been working on my Cantonese (I was able to communicate with my taxi driver fully in Cantonese the other day and it felt AMAZING). I signed with a new management team here that has been opening new doors for me in my career. It’s been a bit of a wild ride, but a welcome one. The pandemic made me a bit nervous about venturing, but in the last year I have really been stepping completely out of my comfort zone to make this city my own.

I wasn’t quite sure if Hong Kong truly felt like “home” to me though until very recently. This past April, I traveled back to Los Angeles for 2 days for a personal matter. Despite driving around the city I had lived in for 10 years prior to relocating to Hong Kong and meeting up with lifelong friends, Los Angeles felt strange to me. It had been my home and the place I felt at home for a decade. Now it felt like a stranger. It felt like visiting an old classroom after you’ve graduated – everything is mostly the same but it still feels completely different because you have moved on. As soon as I landed back in Hong Kong, I immediately felt a sense of familiarity and comfort. I even breathed a sigh of relief. I had done the same thing after we landed back in Hong Kong from Japan the previous month. I looked out the window and only one word popped up in my mind: “Home.” I am home. Hong Kong is home.

Will we stay in Hong Kong forever? No one can see the future, but at the moment I couldn’t really imagine my little family little anywhere else. The beau and I are actively looking into moving to a new home here in Hong Kong within the next year or two, and one of the requirements of our new home is making sure it’s the perfect spot for little bean to evolve from a little bean to a grown up bean. But believe it or not, it wasn’t getting pregnant and giving birth to little bean that affirmed my choice to remain in Hong Kong because I wanted this city to be my home. It wasn’t getting married to the beau and applying for my dependent visa, either. It was the day I met Luca. You may laugh and wonder why meeting a dog would be the reason why I chose to remain in Hong Kong. Those who have cats and/or dogs may understand. There’s a reason I did not bring Renly and Dany to Hong Kong, as much as I wanted to and as much as being separated from them absolutely destroyed and broke my heart. I could not fathom having them in cargo, and neither could my ex-husband, and so they happily live with him in California. I have always said that I would never put my fur babies in cargo unless it was an absolute emergency. I would avoid it at all costs if I could. The day I met Luca and decided he was to be mine meant I couldn’t leave Hong Kong, not as long as he is alive. I needed him, he needed me, and together we have made Hong Kong our home.

At the end of the day, even if we didn’t have Luca, the beau and I could not imagine having our little bean grow up anywhere else. The beau grew up here, and he loves knowing that our daughter will get to say that she grew up here, too. The opportunities she has here already at her young age have been incredible, and she really does thrive here. She is an avid lover of Cantonese cuisine (every Sunday she asks for dim sum), she has friends from all different cultures from around the world (none of her friends or classmates are from North America, so I am fully expecting her to develop a slight accent!), and she will be starting Mandarin immersion school later this year. To her, Hong Kong is home, and now it is mine, too. This is where our family needs to be for now. From Hong Kong, with love.

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