I landed a few hours ago in Hong Kong, and as I was landing I thought of the same time last week when I was headed back into the mountains in France. I remember seeing the mountains and feeling a surge of strength and happiness inside of me at the same time, and wondered why the same feeling didn’t come to me when I saw the skyscrapers and buildings of Hong Kong come into view. There was still a sense of home, something warm I recognized, but it felt a little rustier, less wholesome, more humid, less fresh.
It’s been two months since I set off to go to Europe and I can barely remember how the time passed this quickly. I left the train station in Modane and set off for Milan yesterday, where I milled around for an hour or two with a girl I met on the train, and it felt like a closing of a chapter. But somehow, this time around, I was both saddened and felt lifted up by the fact that I would someday go back. I have come to realize that the mountains are what make me feel strongest, and no matter what I do it should be in proximity to that feeling of strength and happiness. Two weeks ago I finished Yasmina Reza’s book Heureux les Heureux written from the perspective of a father mocking his son’s desire to “be happy,” because what does that even mean? And I think this is what it means, to feel at home no matter where you are. Part of me understands that as growing up on an island of mountains, where I was surrounded by this sort of strength, but in a city that continually undermines its nature by creating more city, more commerce, more coverage to shadow over its landscape, and it feels, at times, a bit more suffocating that I remember.
And perhaps this time around, I’m understanding what it means to have homes everywhere, that though it means I will have places to be and people to come home to no matter where I travel to the older I get, it also means there will be homes I have to abandon, places I will not be able to go to as often, people I see less even though I love them, that time is a limitation that both allows us to do the things we want and also is not infinite and cannot happen in multiplicity.
I feel different, this time, coming home, to the people, to the food, the scenes, the topics of conversation. I feel simpler, less burdened by the weight of appointments and constraints and city life. I will wake up tomorrow morning without an alarm and work without the hours, which is, of course, a luxury, but something I never did often even when I could. I wonder what this will mean for my last year in college and the years after that. I wonder if living a day-to-day life is considered acceptable.
I am forever grateful to the people who have made places in their homes for me, or made homes for me in their lives. I’m not sure how much I contain, but it seems that there is an infinite amount of space within me to make room for more people to love, and for that I am continuously surprised by my own strength and the size of the world and of humanity. It makes me hopeful that the world is kinder than it appears.