Saturday, June 12, 2010

Things I Will Miss

We’re on the 26, taking the kids to school, when a man waves from the curb.  It’s not a stop, but the driver pulls over anyway, inadvertently blocking in an SUV just about to pull into the road. 

No one honks. 


Spring is amazing fruit time:  first came the lychees and the mangosteen.  Now, it’s longon—dragon eyes—season:  they come in bunches hanging from twigs, about the size of a cherry, wrapped in a rough, papery skin.  Peel back half of it, and you can pop the white fruit in your mouth.  It tastes like a grape, only milder.  And in the middle is a small, perfectly smooth, perfectly black seed. 


Getting on the bus, Jamie heads for the seat while I prop the stroller up front.  The driver must not be paying attention, because he starts before we’re able to sit.   Jamie jerks back, takes a step.  Three hands, from three different people, reach out to catch him. 


Sitting on the couch every night, writing like a fiend, with the delusion that if I try hard enough, someday Oprah might want to meet me. 


To cross the river from Old Tai Po to new Tai Po, you climb two flights of stairs to a covered walkway that stretches between two shopping malls.  On most days, if you’re there late in the afternoon, you’ll hear the Ting-Ting man.  He sells hard, chewy, slightly spicy white candy out of a bit silver tub he sets on a stool.  To make sure you know he’s there, he taps a small spatula with the spike he uses to break free the toffee. 


Every morning, after we see Will and Lucy off on the shuttle bus up to the primary school, Jamie and I will stroll up Kwong Fuk Road before heading back to campus.  Half-way up, we’ll buy a South China Morning Post from a small, lean man, who moves quickly as he stuff fliers into today’s edition of six or seven different newspapers.  He’s handsome in an ordinary way, not the less so because he very clearly takes himself so seriously. 

When he sees us, he’ll flash me a quick, dry smile, then reach for an SCMP, folding it in half as he uses his other hand to snag a packet of tissues that come with the paper as a promotion.  Once I’ve given him my money and he’s handed me the change, he’ll smile at Jamie and say, in practiced English, “Good morning!”  Jamie will do his usual shuffle and jive, turning away, but looking from beneath his lids.  “Good morning!” the man will say.  “Good morning!”  Then he’ll laugh.    


That spark of energy I feel every time—every time—I step out of the Central MTR station and into the busy streets of Hong Kong Island. 


They are asleep on the train to Hung Hom, side-by-side in their first-class seats, her head on his, his on a yellow pillow resting on her shoulder.  Both of them are wearing black suits; he’s in blue with a tie, and she’s in a white blouse, the collar open.

They’re holding hands.  As the train draws toward Kowloon Tong, she lifts her head, rubs her eyes, looks at her watch.  Another moment and she pulls crimson nails, very lightly, over the back of his hand.  He wakes, blinking.  She kisses his head, then begins to gather their stuff—her handbag, a water bottle, what looks like the wrapper from a power bar.  Picking up the yellow pillow, he rubs it, then stuffs it into a backpack. 

The train slows.  I watch as they press the wrinkles from their jackets, exchange a word or two.  Then they rise, squeeze through the bodies toward the door, and disappear into the crowded platform. 


Sophia said...

Oh man, longons! So good. Same with rambutans. Can't get enough of them. I haven't seen any here, though :(

Najla said...

"Three hands, from three different people, reach out to catch him." - that made me tear-up. Loved it.