Well this is it — my last week in Hong Kong. In seven days I’ll be boarding a plane and bidding farewell to the ‘Fragrant Harbour’ which has been my home for the last three years.
Anyone who has ever migrated or even moved house knows that the process of packing up and moving is a royal pain in the backside. When I left Trinidad about four years ago, I boarded a BWEE flight from Trinidad to Toronto with nothing but two suitcases in my hand. Everything I owned fit into those two bags — mostly clothes, shoes, daily necessities. Other than that, I owned nothing, really. How much has changed since then!
Now after a few years and one marriage I’ve accumulated speakers, a TV, headphones, a DVD player, pots and pans, about 100 small kitchen items such as chopsticks, cutlery, table runners, cheese graters, flower vases, standing fans, blow dryers, 10 pieces of art, knick knacks and bric-a-brac collected from my travels, and lots and lots of books, to name a few.
You don’t think about the long term consequences when you buy something new, but one day when the time comes to move, each and every one of those items will require you to decide whether you still want it; how you will transport it; or how you will get rid of it. Moving forces you to do a complete stock-taking of your life and decide how much of it you actually need and want.
There’s a great quote about possessions and ownership from the movie Up in the Air, starring George Clooney:
“How much does your life weigh? Imagine for a second that you’re carrying a backpack. I want you to pack it with all the stuff that you have in your life… you start with the little things. The shelves, the drawers, the knickknacks, then you start adding larger stuff. Clothes, tabletop appliances, lamps, your TV… the backpack should be getting pretty heavy now. You go bigger. Your couch, your car, your home… I want you to stuff it all into that backpack. Now I want you to fill it with people. Start with casual acquaintances, friends of friends, folks around the office… and then you move into the people you trust with your most intimate secrets. Your brothers, your sisters, your children, your parents and finally your husband, your wife, your boyfriend, your girlfriend. You get them into that backpack, feel the weight of that bag…. The slower we move the faster we die. Make no mistake, moving is living. Some animals were meant to carry each other to live symbiotically over a lifetime. Star crossed lovers, monogamous swans. We are not swans. We are sharks.”
This quote really struck a chord with me at this point in my life. He’s quite right — the things you own can really weigh you down.
So, in order to be more like the free-moving shark he mentioned, we have decided to sell or give away all of our possessions and return to the days where everything we owned could fit into two suitcases. The dining room table, gone. Ironing board, gone. TV, microwave oven, tupperware, ceramic baking pans, laundry rack, mortar and pestle, gone. We’re getting rid of everything and cutting our losses. Starting fresh. Travelling light.
The next destination, I may have forgotten to mention, is Koh Samui, a little island in the Andaman Sea of Thailand where my father lives. It’s a lovely little place where you can rent a house a five minutes’ walk from the beach for US $300 a month, the food is orgasmic, the sky is always blue, the waves never stop lapping the shore.
After four years in two of the most crowded cities in the world, becoming a beach bum for six months is something that is most welcome. The plan is to relax for a few months, and by the end of the year try to decide where to go, whether it’s for a new job or what. I figure you only have a few opportunities in your life when you can take a significant amount of time off, so I better grasp it while I can. Thailand here we come.
In one week, one adventure ends, and another begins. This time around I’ll try to keep my backpack light, and not fill it up with too many unnecessary things.