Tears in Rain

Saturday morning I spent at my neighbor’s house visiting. Her husband was in the Viet Nam war and, a few years later, I was in South China. We talked about Hong Kong — he talked about it as it was when he was a young sailor in the late 60s. I talked about it as it was when I was a young teacher, fifteen years later. For both of us it was a sanctuary, and for both of us an aspect of the sanctuary was Hong Kong’s natural beauty.

Stories poured out of each of us, some stories I have told before, some I hadn’t. It’s a different thing to tell a story to someone who has been there, who has seen the same thing you’ve seen, the back of Victoria Peak, for example, the islands beyond. He had taken photos of those islands and I had hiked them.

At one point in the conversation I mentioned visiting an island across the Gulf of Tonkin from Viet Nam.

“Hainan,” he said. “I have a picture of it.”

“That’s it. I’d love to see the picture.”

“It’s just the blood red sky of sunrise. It’s not really a picture of the island. You wouldn’t know what it is.”

We both agreed we loved Asia and neither of us want to go back. The places we loved no longer exist as they were. They are someone else’s adventure, now.




5 thoughts on “Tears in Rain

  1. No place remains as it was – all in the name of progress. I do not know China, never been there, but I do remember Hong Kong being a British Crown Colony, until they had to give it back, honouring the contract signed with the Chinese government. We always said the inscrutable chinese but how inscrutable they are I do not know. Hong Kong has probably had its problems since, but not to the extent that there was bloodshed. Somehow it works, although I am speaking as a spectator.

    • I have no idea how it is now. I was sad when it reverted. The Chinese aren’t really inscrutable; they are careful as I think anyone would be living cheek-by-jowl with others for thousands of years. After a year there, and having formed good, real friendships, I came away with the thought that while human beings are the same in their fundamental needs Chinese culture and Western culture are very different in their approach to filling those needs. The word “individual” translates to “selfish” in their dictionary and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I loved China, though. Very, very much.

  2. Loved that final sentiment, it’s someone else’s adventure now. I feel that way about Chicago. Every time I go back there, I remember what it was like to live there, but it seems like another life. One I am not part of now.

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