Monday, 27 February 2012

Between worlds

I must try and stay calm; manage my exit from Hong Kong with three kids, yet remain a role model of a parent. I must show the children, by my words and actions, this is how a woman experiences challenges and problems, yet remains in a state of purpose, dignity, and poise.

Obviously, this is not going to be possible.

For a start, I am packing up our habits and routines in this house, alone. Or, more precisely, with the sort of help you might imagine from three children who have almost no grip on the cruel practicalities and brutal realities of packing up your belongings, throwing out the refuse, and leaving a place where you've lived.

Shark has been in a state of denial for some time. She has taken two weeks to turn out one plastic box and throw away a copy of First News she brought from England last August. (Not without taking a cutting first.)

She seems to imagine her days here will continue just the same, somehow after we're gone.

Maybe I have tried to introduce these profound changes to her. Maybe last week the discussion arose about possibilities of her leaving. Maybe she suggested she didn't want to go, unless she acquires an aquarium in England.

(Did I agree to that? DID I AGREE TO THAT? Which stupid, weak parent, in a moment of madness, AGREED TO AN AQUARIUM? Idiot.)

Squirrel says it bluntly. She does not want to leave the house. Particularly the roof, which is her play space, and where she makes papier mache landforms. But she is more pragmatic. She says she's definitely coming back to Hong Kong to work.

Work at what, I am not sure. Mucking about and eating ice cream, probably, the way I see her options panning out. Maybe I can locate for her a member of the idle rich; one with zero demands and a lot of patience?

If you are looking to take on Squirrel as a future high-maintenance daughter-in-law with a compulsive rock-collecting habit and a line in fairy sparkle, then I can certainly recommend her.

Tiger, the insane, beautiful, deadly, emotional roller-bundle that is Tiger, cannot arrive home to England fast enough. That's what she says, anyhow. She hasn't started packing yet, I note, nor sifting through her treasured stockpiles of books, fabrics, and drawings of horses. Every time I mention starting the sifting process she howls, claims she cannot possibly do that with only seconds in her life, then smashes up her bedroom.

I think there are people, places, and experiences here in Hong Kong that Tiger will miss. She denies it. Except for whispering, as if in confession, that she will miss Diana, the ebullient daughter of a homeschooling mom who I will miss, too. At least I admit it. Tiger's denials will be louder, longer, howlier, with each passing day and turning clock.

But I have learned a few things. I must try and pull off the trick of packing her treasures with her agreement while she doesn't notice yet is fully aware.

Me, I'm just carrying on, packing stuff, sorting out piles of paper and cardboard, most of which the children have glued together to make miniature rooms and houses, and having the odd squeal, in an undignified parenty sort of way.

I'm thinking over how the last fortnight here I expected to spend buzzing about Hong Kong, seeing and doing everything that I failed to do in the last two years. There are so many places to visit that I never went; so many sights I never saw; so many moments I never lived. Can I fit them now into days, or hours?

Not now. Time is moving too fast to fit in everything. I am already waving the losses gone; pottering about in old clothes, turning out cupboards, throwing things away, listening to talk about all the fish that can be put into tanks, all the rocks we can carry in our socks or on the wings of homing fairies, and how all the delights of Hong Kong can never match the feel of cold soil in England.


Irene said...

There's no place like home and now home seems to be Hong Kong. Such confusion. It must be tough on you to have to deal with this all on your own. The girls will be happy once they're in England again, but getting there seems to be a battle. I would bribe them. Promise them anything. Good luck, Grit. My thoughts are with you.

sharon said...

Packing up this time must be slightly easier than the move to HK surely. Wait until one week to go then remind the girls that anything not approved and subsequently packed will be left behind - and it is not your problem!

Sad that you didn't manage a side trip to WA while you were in our time zone though.