Future President constantly asks me to tell him stories about when I was a little girl and most of the time I am left a little speechless as I try to find the words to describe my childhood, a childhood that looks nothing like his in a landscape and country that are completely foreign.
I usually tell him the same simple stories: about the hill behind our apartment building, slabbed with concrete, and the rope ladder that allowed us to climb up the hill and into the jungle, where we would climb on giant rocks and swing from branches. The only worry we had was the potential sighting of rabid, wild dogs.
More often than not, after school we’d be outside, practicing pull ups on the monkey bars or climbing the side of the hill playing spy, using our hands as binoculars to monitor the Bentleys and Rolls Royces that would make their way up Stubbs Road to the hospital where my father worked.
At Christmastime my parents took us to the Nutcracker. In Hong Kong, this wasn’t as simple as getting into a car, parking, and then finding your seats. It was an adventure. First, we’d take a double decker bus down the curvy hill to the ferry terminal, where we’d wait for the ferry to cross the harbor.
The Star Ferry is the cheapest and most breathtaking way to see Hong Kong at night. The green and white boats made their journey across the harbor from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon every few minutes, and we always sat on the top deck, even though it was more expensive. We’d run to find the best seats with the best views and after the 10 minute ferry ride, we’d be in Kowloon. A large metal door would lower to become a bridge from the ferry to the dock, and we’d rush off, stopping only to beg our parents to buy a cookie from the Mrs. Fields kiosk at the ferry terminal.
Next we’d walk to the Hong Kong Cultural Center, find our seats and I would imagine that some day it would be my turn to be on stage. I was always jealous of the little ballerinas who danced during the Christmas party scene and figured one day that I would be on stage, too – probably not as a ballerina, but as an actress.
And then we would sit entranced by the music and the dancing and we would get home well after bedtime, a reverse trip of the way we’d come, only this time instead of bus, at the ferry terminal on Hong Kong Island, we’d wait in the taxi line and then squeeze into the red cab for the ride home.
Many Christmases we would talk about how much we wished we were in the States for the holidays, to experience snow days and large family gatherings. But when I think about it now, I wouldn’t trade anything for the experiences my parents gave us by packing up a five-year old, a three-year old and a one-year old and taking a giant leap of faith by moving from Maine to Hong Kong those many years ago.
Thanks for reading Day 3 of NaBloPoMo!