my HK family

It’s been a new experience this trip to Hong Kong, getting to know my family that loves, breathes, and could only imagine living in HK. It takes me a few trips to the same place or at least a total of a month’s worth of days to feel like I know even a small part of a place.  My entire father’s side lives here. On my 5th trip here, they finally acknowledge me as a real Chinese person and not just this American that pretends once in a while. Their test: you must love to eat (and appreciate the thousand-year-old egg). When I’m in town, their weekly extended family dinner dates ends up being daily make-it-if-you-can dates.

Their friend circles know when I’m arriving. I’m like that mutt that must be shown the ways and taught the food and culture of Cantonese people. My palate must know what is the best. I have since decided the Instagramable things and reviews online by Westerners have missed some of the best foods this place has to offer (including the people that give away constellations). On this trip, the universe granted me an amazing opportunity to learn how to make dim sum. Usually, dim sum masters don’t trade secrets and definitely don’t let you into their kitchen. I want to preserve some knowledge of my dna’s food culture and incorporate that into my own expression of baking. A plead for knowledge, promise to keep our craft alive, and being the niece of an uncle who loves to eat convinced them to allow me in their kitchen.

Another unique identity of my people comes with addressing women as “beautiful lady” and men as “beautiful gents.” Age doesn’t affect whether you are beautiful or not. I asked my father how you know if they were speaking to you or the person next to you. His response: “You just know.” Fair enough. I’m turning my head every time.

The parks here are exceptionally beautiful.

They also really love their cell phones.

Who doesn’t like a properly made 蝦餃? 🦐

We are beautiful

So, the world will eventually see me as I come out of this lockdown I’ve put myself in. I got in an accident on my Vespa, which needs a name. She’s a trooper like me, and we are both doing fine. I’m a bit beat up, but my spirits are surprisingly high. I’m grateful I didn’t break anything, and will just have some lasting scars.

My friend recently asked me if she was beautiful.  I thought it was an odd question to ask – of course she is beautiful.  She’s more than beautiful, inside and out.  How do I explain this to her in a way that she’ll understand, and more importantly, believe?

Today, I know how to answer her question.

None of us are perfect according to society’s standard, so fuck that standard. The way I see it, these scars are gonna be beautiful. They are gonna be a part of me. That love handle, that’s me too. Those stretch marks, that’s me too. That ass that once was nice and tight – today, not so much, that’s me too. That heart may be broken, but it will mend. That anger, it’s temporary, and time will heal. Our bodies are ever changing and they are just another expression of us – all of it is beautiful. Some of the past may leave a scar, but those will fade. Who you are today and who you want to be tomorrow is who I’m concerned about, and I find you beautiful.