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Time Warp

It seems incredible to me that tomorrow is Thanksgiving.

The year is almost over and I’ve no recollection of it. I was reading the comments of a social scientist the other day and she was saying that the phenomena is quite common this year.

Humans are social animals; it seems that we measure our spent time by social interactions, or activities. And since there have been so few, we are left with a bewildering blank.

I was talking to my friend about this and she agreed. She began ticking off the social events that have NOT occurred in her town this year. Spring festivals, art and crafts fairs, theatre performances, pumpkin festivals, and winter events; all cancelled.

I live in a small town as well and can remember last year’s events. I arrived from Germany to my new home, just before Christmas. There had been musical concerts, a parade of lights, and many social gatherings. There were two book club events, a series of lectures, free piano concerts, hiking tours and theatre performances.

Friends who had not seen me in years were scheduled to visit and see my new home. One by one, all events were cancelled. The most bitter was the cancellation of the Next Generation Book Awards Gala held in Chicago. My humble book had actually received an award and it was going to be presented at the gala. I had my little black dress and sparkly shoes packed. THAT was cancelled. I shall probably never win another book award or have a chance to attend a gala where it was honoured.

The void has not been entirely unpleasant. As my life dwindled down to a few restrictive movements, I settled in, concentrating on basic, simple pleasures.

I had my health. I was able to get around on my bicycle for long bike rides and walks on the beach. The isolation helped me ease back into a new culture and way of life.

…Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, Thanksgiving.

I will be doing it solo this year. As an expat it was seldom celebrated anyway. Fellow teachers and I would seize the holiday, delightfully planning what could be visited in a four-day break.

While living in Korea, we went to Boracay. What an adventure THAT was.

When the anticipated transportation did not materialize, we had to take a Cessna six-seater plane back to Manila. We were the last three passengers the pilot could squeeze in, and I ended up in the co-pilot seat. As we hurtled down the grass covered runway, scattering goats and chickens, I prayed to heaven the rather obese and aged pilot would not suffer any major health event.

It was a lovely flight back.

My first Thanksgiving in Okinawa was spent in Hong Kong with a few ‘seasoned’ teachers who turned out to be fervent shoppers. They knew all the markets. The Jade Market. The Silk Market, the Gold Market, and Bird Street Market where elderly men walk their pet birds in beautifully carved wooden cages. In the picture below, the man in the middle is holding one of these cages and walking his bird. 😊

And then the king of all markets, Stanley Market, where I became separated from my companions. We were browsing in a small shop and after a few minutes I looked up, and they were gone. It turns out they had both wandered to the upstairs level. Being a jam-packed little store, I never saw the stairway at the back of the shop.

After thoroughly searching the entire market for them, I was more concerned about their worry for me, than my predicament. Stanley Market is on the Kowloon Peninsula, and our hotel was on Hong Kong Island. After studying my tour booklet, I figured out how to get on the bus that would take me to lovely Victoria Harbour, and cross over to Hong Kong on the Star Ferry line.

It was there I ran into my first difficulty. I could not remember the name of the hotel or the street. We had only arrived the night before, and it had been a bit of a blur. A frantic search of my knapsack unearthed a paid invoice with the hotel name and address.

Since that moment I have NEVER gone wandering without my hotel and address somewhere on me.

By late afternoon I found my way back. Both friends were there, only slightly perturbed. I took it has a compliment. They knew I would find my way home again. That’s what expats do.

So THIS Thanksgiving is my first (if I don’t count last year’s blur, up to my neck unpacking) in over 30 years. I have few memories to haunt me. My parents are gone, and siblings distant. Friends are in the same boat as me.

I am planning a delicious dinner of champagne shrimp with angel hair pasta. It looks scrumptious, and I guess I’ll have the leisure to finish up whatever champagne is not used. 😊

Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving this year or not, I wish you joy, and good health.

Much love from the island ❤

S. Kensington.

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