I celebrated my 4-year Hong Kong-aversary just a week ago, getting together with just a few good friends for a quiet Monday night drink. Unlike the previous 3 years, no big changes really – things are now settling down into a kind of “normal” actually. I am in the same job and in the same apartment. I have roughly the same lifestyle as I did last year. I can say I added some amazing new travel experiences in the past year – including a mind-blowing trip to Yosemite, a relaxing time in Cebu, connecting to my roots in Hainan, spicing things up in Chengdu and Jiuzhaigou.
Oh but of course there was one tremendous change… and that is the loss of my one and only Paw Paw (maternal grandmother). That change is irreversible and forever breaks my heart. But I can also say all the wonderful times I had with her forever fills it too.
So what does year 5 have in store for me? Well an unexpected thing happened to me last night. I was fiddling with this red string that has been tied around my right wrist for the same amount of time (plus a few months more). It is called a “fita,” and I got it during my last trip to Brazil in the summer of 2009, not long before I left for Hong Kong.
The concept of this “wish string” is a bit different from the Indian “pooja” or the Thai Buddhist “sai sin” or the red string used in the Kabalah tradition since it is not so much a protective talisman or blessing, but is one that represents three wishes that are made when three knots are tied into it.
I actually don’t quite remember my exact three wishes anymore (hopefully I wrote it down in my travel journal of the time), but I do remember how very sad I felt during that trip. Despite going to a country I had fallen in love with during an earlier visit, and seeing the most incredible things (sloths are my favorite Amazon animal by far), I could not shake this almost tangible feeling of sadness. I remember it unnerving my travel companion.
During my many travels, I have picked up a few poojas and a sai sin in India, Nepal and Thailand (respectively), and they all would fall off in a reasonable amount of time. I can only imagine they provided me with protection as nothing awful has ever happened to me on my many travels. But this one string, my Brazilian fita, remained so terribly stubborn. It outlived three other similar strings and lasted me all these years. Sometimes I found it irritating, but I always believed one day it will fall off and my wishes will (hopefully) come true.
And just as I had grown so used to it (like I have to Hong Kong) – it falls off very unexpectedly! !
So I wonder if it is a sign of things to come…