Monday, 16 December 2013

Coming up for Air

Remember me?  I’m the one who promised to be more faithful in my reporting of the everyday a few months ago.  Well, it’s been a time of transition, and rolling through the ebbs and flows of life pulling me in many directions and away from blogging.  So as I board my 15 hour flight from Melbourne to Los Angeles en route back to Canada for the holidays, I will bring you all up to speed on a few things since last we talked.

In early November, my good friend Jen and I flew to Hong Kong to spend a week together.  She had a free pass to go anywhere Air Canada flies and asked if I would join her.  So she flew 14 hours west from Calgary, I flew 9 hours north from Melbourne and we arrived in Hong Kong within 20 minutes of each other.  It was my first real foray into Asia and, boy oh boy, did we explore and experience much that this amazing city had to offer.  We stayed on Kowloon Island, a short walk to the iconic Star Ferries which shuttle people the short distance across Victoria Harbour to Hong Kong Island.  Many people  told me that Hong Kong is something of a shopping mecca and that was true, however, neither Jen nor I are in the habit of wandering into Chanel stores in Melbourne or Calgary so it wasn’t our intention to do so here.  Rather our goals were to eat local, get off the beaten track, avoid touristy stuff, and troll the markets.

I think we accomplished our goals, we spent time twice at the Temple Street night market, eating hawker food (amazing), at the Stanley Market, purchasing inexpensive scarves, bags, and Buddhist trinkets, and drinking copious amounts of refreshing watermelon juice.  We also visited the Jade market and many neighbourhood food markets where the emphasis was on local Chinese greens, and dried fish and beans.

The traditional Junk boat we took around Victoria Harbour

One of my favorite experiences was going to a colony of temples dedicated to Buddhist, Taoism, and Confuscianism in Wong Tai Sin where the acrid scent of incense was overwhelming and the feeling of spirituality palpable.  Here, we took boxes of numbered sticks, sank to our knees in front of Buddha, formed a question in our minds, closed our eyes, and shook the box until a single stick fell to the ground.  Noting the number, we went in search of an English-speaking soothsayer who interpreted a story based on the number.  The insight was startling.

Big Buddha on Lantau Island

Offering at Big Buddha

Peking Duck - OMG delicious!
 Another day, anxious for a break from the overwhelming crush of humanity in Hong Kong, Jen and I travelled by ferry, tram and taxi to the far end of Hong Kong island, miraculously found an elusive trailhead and headed up the long and spectacular Dragon’s Back trekking trail.  We trekked for a couple of hours in peace before joining more widely-travelled part of the trail.  The views from the top of the ancient volcanic topography that is Hong Kong were amazing.  At the end of the trail, we hopped on a bus to the small beach town of  Shek-Oh where we peeled off our sticky clothes and swam in the wintery warm waters.

At the top of Dragon's Back
 Jen is one of my soul sisters, and we moved in a similar rhythm, inspired by the same things, equally adventurous and curious, she is grounded, generous, smart as a whip, and a treasured friend.

Upon returning to Melbourne, I took a taxi directly to Albert Park in South Melbourne where Child Wise was sponsoring the 5K charity run that J had been training hard for.  It was 9:00am and I was jetlagged but met up with C2 and J, and we ran the race.  J sprinted by me at the start and I didn’t see him again until the finish line.  He finished 4th overall among ALL runners in 26.29 which, for those of you not in-the-know, is FAST.  About 5 minutes into the run, my persistent hamstring injury made itself very known and I limped to a 29.28 finish.  
At least my socks were cool even if my hamstring wasn't
So began my weekly visits to Dr Physio who diagnosed severe tendonopathy in my right hamstring, and banned me from running for 2 months.  Let this be a lesson I hope to follow in future months – DO NOT IGNORE INJURIES AND RUN THROUGH THEM HOPING THEY WILL JUST GO AWAY because they don’t.  It’s a very bad tendonitis, and quite debilitating.  I’ve continued swimming as my shoulder injury is improving with therapy and added in yoga…till yoga aggravated my hamstring and Dr Physio has now banned me from yoga for a month.  Sigh.  I am very much missing running and both the physical and mental release that it gives me.  I am behaving and working hard to build my glutes and lower back muscles to assist in recovery.

Our darling 15-year old Labrador Murphy is still trucking on but the signs of aging are building.  She was diagnosed this month with early heart failure and is on new meds to combat it.  It has been an interesting journey sheparding our much-loved dog through old age.  During our absence for the next three weeks, my neighbour’s 25-year old daughter is moving into our house to dog-sit.  I have prepared THREE Webster trays of meds and vitamins (Monday-Sunday AM and PM) to be dosed out at specific intervals, and a clear schedule of walks and care.  Though we have been blessed with much time and travel with this lovely girl and I am grateful; all three of us gaze upon her with our hearts in our throats, I feel time is beginning to run out.

C2s work and travel schedule continue to be intense and it has a knock-on effect on our family.  We are coping but I feel change is in the air.  C2, thankfully, is healthy, fit, and well-balanced, but as we both had significant birthdays this year, we find ourselves wondering about this expat life of ours.  It has been an amazing experience, rich in culture, new worlds, and people, but there has been a price attached to it. The price is being rootless, wandering the globe, never quite sure where we belong or where we want to be.  Honestly, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about how we have lived the last decade, not a single thing, but the experience has not been without cost.  As J gets older and attached to things beyond the two of us, we are conscious of our choices and their impact on him.

I have started a new role at Child Wise.  Our organisation has undergone a painful reorganisation, I have emerged in a good place, many have not and that has been difficult.  But I am looking ahead to new possibilities and new horizons.

I am now three hours and three episodes of “The Big Bang Theory” into this  fourteen hour flight.  I think this is the longest moment I have had to sit and reflect in months.  I am very excited to see my family, again; excited for the three of us to spend a little quality time together; excited to ski for the next five days, breathe the cold air, and feel snow on my face; excited to hike Mount Doug on Vancouver Island, one of our happy places, inhale the heady scent of pine trees and bear witness to the stormy palette of the Pacific Northwest, excited to see my mother and feel her unconditional love, excited for the revelry of Christmas Eve reveillon, and excited for the joy that my sister-in-law and J create on Christmas morning.   I can’t wait to get there.


DL NELSON said...

Welcome back and other choices would have other results.

Jen said...

So glad you came up for air and shared your update, I've been wondering how you were doing inbetween times....

Enjoy your time here in Canuck-land, sending healing thoughts to your hamstring and lots of hugs to all 3 of you (and all the collateral family) !


Sheila Cook said...

I have just read this wonderful newsy blog - I am so pleased you took my advise and used that very long journey to write your blog (and watch Big Bank Theory!!). You do live a very lovely life, my Chrissy. xx