1. Most of the time, when people ask me where I'm from, I really don't know what to say. There's the obvious answer: where I live and sleep, and where I've lived for the last decade, bar a few years, but that answer is lazy. I don't feel much attachment to the small town I've lived in for the last decade, although maybe I should; maybe something's wrong with me, that I can't hang up my home sweet home sign and make do, give the answer with the least explanation required. But where's the fun in that? Why can't I not fully know where I'm from? Do I have to be from somewhere? I like that I can't really give you a straight answer. That where I'm from isn't just one place, it's lot of places, and I'm still working on it.
2. I'm sitting in Hong Kong airport, kinda amazed that the last time I was in this city was about 25 years ago, when I was born. I can't see the city from here because the clouds are heavy and low today, and I can't leave the airport because I don't have a visa and they won't let me out anyway, because I have a connecting flight, but somehow it seems fitting that the next time I would be in Hong Kong would be in a state of movement: from one place to the other. And it's stupid because I'm sitting in a goddamned airport and could just as well be anywhere in the world, but there must be something about returning to where you are born that makes you feel slushy inside. I wouldn't know because I've never done it before, but I do feel a bit romantic about being here, even if it's from inside a massive building. Security look at my passport and see Hong Kong and look up at me and nod, and aside from the fact that I don't look like a conventional Hong-Kongian, they don't know I haven't been here before – properly. For all they know, I could be coming home, and I guess in some way, I sort of am.
3. I watched It's Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong on my flight over here – a cute, simple romance between two strangers and expats living in Hong Kong. It's also what this post is named after, because I love that line. I'm 7 hours ahead of England, 16 in America, so I really am in the future. My eyes feel it and my body feels it, fersure, and I can't tell whether I need to sleep or drink coffee first. I will do both soon, but want to talk about the movie first. The premise is simple, dangerously so, leaving far too much room to feel contrived: two expats meet in Soho and take a walk through the city and talk. That is literally it, as well as a few nice story surprises, and a great cameo from Hong Kong indie-folk band Noughts and Exes (who I've been listening to while writing this). But it really worked. It's a love letter to a great city, written with a tight script and enough awkwardness to make it feel like there's something that these two have together, even though they don't quite know what it is. Travelling, exploring, adventure – it's like falling in love, no?
4. The thing is, it's really cool to say that I was born in Hong Kong, but it's kind of lost its meaning. It's a cool Carlotta fact but it sucks not having any memories or real attachments to Hong Kong, other than what my parents tell me. I didn't grow up here and I don't speak the language. I can't tell you anything about the city or the culture. I once bought a world map and pinned all the places I had been, but I didn't pin Hong Kong or Australia or Thailand or Beijing or Singapore and countless other places, because I was too young to remember any of them. But I was there, travelling to and from different hotels my dad worked in. One time we were caught in a hurricane in Fiji. My mum loves telling the story and uses it whenever I'm feeling down or pokey about something. She'll say, 'If you can survive a hurricane, you can survive anything' – and it's wonderful to think that I fought my way through this horrendous natural disaster, but in reality we were all evacuated to a hotel basement with plenty of supplies and I probably slept my way through it, as any bored little girl who didn't know or couldn't understand what was going on would do. So to be here, in actual Hong Kong, even in an airport that could be anywhere, feels meaningful in some way. And when I get back home, I'm gonna stick in a pin in Hong Kong and say I was there, in the hope that next time I'll stay a little longer.
5. 220,000,000 – the number of people living in countries that aren't their own. Already, that represents the fifth largest nation on earth; a nation created out of movement, privilege or force, a nation of travellers and expats and refugees and third-culture kids and runaways and outsiders and people whose home isn't where they were born or brought up or chose to be or expected. Movement, like Pico Iyer says, is a fantastic privilege, but it only has meaning if you have a home to go back to. In his TED talk, 'Where is home?', Pico says how lucky we are today that some of us are able to choose where we call home, that our sense of community isn't just in one place, like in our grandparents' age. Things have changed. We are lucky to be able to have breakfast in one country and cross an entire continent in time for dinner. That is a privileged thing, and we need to keep hold of that. Not everyone moves to a different country of their own accord, or because they've always wanted to. But I think and hope they will be able to 'fashion their own sense of self' regardless, that they won’t feel as if they are torn between two cultures, that both countries will somehow feel like home, that maybe one day they’ll find a third home and a fourth and maybe a fifth, that their community will be wherever they feel most at home on that given day, where their loved ones are.
6. My next stop is Tokyo, where I'll spend a couple of weeks touring Japan and writing about touring Japan. They might be a bit rough because I want to write and post and not worry too much about what I'm actually writing. We'll see how it goes. Right now, I'm going to explore the airport and dunk my face in coffee and try to get some sleep. I kinda want to find the highest point in the airport where I can look out at the peak, see if I can spot Matilda Hospital. My mum will never forgive me if I don't come back with a picture.
It feels like I'll always belong to Hong Kong in one way or another, because this city was the first thing I saw, and surely that's gotta have stayed with me somehow.