I’d been asking my parents when they were coming to visit us since we landed in Hong Kong. Not that I wasn’t used to going a stretch of time without seeing them, I’ve been doing that since I moved to Boston for college. But, even though I’ve been living far away from them for the past 2 decades, I’ve been living in the same country as them, and we’ve managed to see each other at least 4-5 times a year, and even more this past few years. So knowing that I was moving to another country, another very far away country, I stressed about just how often we would see them and my siblings and their families. Despite it not being cheap to travel, it’s a 15-hour flight, oh yeah, and the jet lag kills, too. Yeah, I was aware that it wasn’t just a road trip to Reno. But, I also knew that I’d rather sit 15 hours in coach eating stale pretzels and strangers’ farts than take a road trip to Reno.
“So when do you think you’ll come out to Hong Kong, Mom/Dad?”, I asked one month before we’d even moved.
I continued to ask this same question for the next 4 months in 2-week intervals…
Well, eventually, my parent’s gave into my verbal water boarding and revealed to us that they were coming in April to surprise Evan as an early 13th birthday gift. I cannot tell you how ecstatic I was. I couldn’t wait to see my parents, for my kids to see grandma and grandpa, to show them Hong Kong, a place which they’d never been before! And I was crossing my fingers that they’d like it. I was almost certain they’d like it, there are a million reasons to like it. But, I knew there were things that could potentially turn them off to this city– the insanely crowded streets, the humidity, the rude taxi drivers, and the sub-par movie popcorn.
I woke upon the day they were supposed to arrive to a what’s app message telling me that their flight from SLC to Seattle had been so badly delayed that they’d missed the flight from Seattle to HK. The next HK flight wasn’t until the same time the next day. They were only staying for a week, I thought. One day shaved off was precious time lost. We’ll really have to pack the schedule, I thought. Peter knew all too well, when it came to vacationing, the Wada’s didn’t mess around- we must see it all. And even more importantly, eat it all! If we didn’t feel like we’d climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro (accomplished expert-level site seeing) or like we’d eaten exceptionally good sushi or korean barbecue (eaten exceptionally good sushi or korean barbecue), then it wasn’t a successful vacation.
I’d told Evan that my good friend, Mike Kasem, was coming into town from Singapore, and we needed to go greet him at the airport. When “Mike” didn’t come in on Thursday night, I told Evan that he’d missed his flight because he was too hungover and had to reschedule for the next day (sorry, Mike, sometimes a good friend takes one for the team).
To keep it more simple and to keep the surprise under wraps, I ended up leaving Evan at home and taking Stella with me to the airport. After several back-and-forth texts and minor landmark confusion, we found my mom and dad. I got teary-eyed, and Stella was so excited she jumped around for a few seconds before jumping into grandpa’s arms.
We took the 45-minute taxi ride to their hotel, where they’d stay for one night as their stay had overlapped Peter’s family’s stay. I called Evan and told him to come to the lobby to say hello to Uncle Mike. You can imagine the sweet scene that shook down thereafter. Evan flashed a look of surprise then pure happiness which melted into a big, long, bury-your-face hug for both of them.
Though it had only been 5 months since we’d seen each other, it felt like we’d gone through a year of changes. And it was a happy reunion.
Though the first day was spent adjusting to jet lag and dodging in and out of crazy rain, the rest of their days here were filled with really great sightseeing and delicious food spent in glorious weather. Sunny, 80 degrees, and surprisingly NOT HUMID! The busy streets weren’t as hectic as they could have been, the cab drivers were kind…enough, all the food was a hit. Except for the movie popcorn, they hated the movie popcorn.
Touring around Hong Kong with my parents made me appreciate this city even more than I had already. I’ve only been here for 5 months so I am still pretty much viewing this city with fresh eyes. And looking out at the harbor and seeing the impressive skyline from the Peak and riding on the ferry out to Lama Island and walking through wet markets I could only keep thinking, Man- we live in an incredibly beautiful and exhilarating city.
My parents had a great time, other than losing a phone at Hong Kong Disneyland on their last day. And we couldn’t get enough of having them here with us, being able to kiss and hug them and walk with them, hear their voices from the other room, to have picnics under table tents, sit and eat ice cream together or watch men fishing off the pier. And knowing how much my kids have been missing them, it was such a gift to see them with holding hands and walking with Evan or to see Stella on my dad’s shoulders or on my mom’s lap.
The morning they left for the airport, we all went to my bedroom and crawled up on the bed. And Evan, Stella and I cried for a good 10 minutes. Mostly because we were so so sad to see my parents go, but also because our 3 weeks of family visits had come to an end. And we’d been in the midst of loved ones and excitement and fun non-stop for nearly a month. And the sudden shift was quite jarring.
We hope we won’t always live so far away from our dear families, but for now we can only be grateful that we have the opportunities to see them when we can. And grateful that we are a part of such amazing families. Being here in Hong Kong, I sometimes feel a bit disconnected, even a bit isolated at times, but feeling the love from my family here and from abroad, I always feel extremely blessed.
Love you, mom and dad.