Lunar New Year
Saying an excited hello and an early goodbye
Tomorrow is my last Lunar New Year as a resident of Hong Kong. It feels quietly important, subtly monumental, like reaching the end of Gilmore Girls or turning 29.
Some people do a lot of reflecting on the precipice of a new year. I’m sorry to say that I am one of these people. Given any official occasion to look back and look forward (and basically in any direction but this way), I eagerly make an activity out of sitting wistfully and bathing in convoluted chains of thought.
I wish I could say that knowing this is the last Lunar New Year in the place I’ve called home for six years is as life-changing as knowing I’ll never again celebrate a Gregorian new year in a Western country. The idea of never again counting down or warbling “Auld Lang Syne” in a joyful stupor feels entirely unfathomable to me — and I’m not even a fan of NYE celebrations. But this isn’t like that. Lunar New Year stirs something inside of me, wakes this faint notion of familiarity and knowing, and of course, the festivities outside and even the small ones I adhere to in my home fill me with joy, but there is something removed. You know how you can be once or twice removed from someone else? That’s what this holiday is for me. That’s what knowing this is my last holiday here is for me. A few people removed. A few DNA cells removed. A few childhood experiences removed. It’s not as embedded and certain as the Western parts my mixed-race being knows. Why do I wish it were different? Ah, the lifelong battle of trying to be two things in one body.
Unlike Western NYE, it’s quiet here tonight. Earlier, on the small island on which I live, there was a quiet bustle, a sense of getting things done: buying armfuls of flowers, carefully hanging decorations either side of front doors, queueing for meats and vegetables, sweeping dust over the threshold into the street. In the flow of conversation between customers and vendors about carrots or orchids, there were casual exchanges of “Happy New Year” before both parties moved on to their next task. And then, at around 4 p.m., there was a quiet. The passengers from the 4:45 ferry, released from work early for the occasion, seemed to disperse in a calm, efficient fashion, perhaps understanding the nature of this particular moment on this…