**Updated on 12 Feb at bottom
Not to be outdone by Christmas Tree fever, I recently brought last year’s orange “kam” tree in off the balcony.
This tree deserves a lot more credit – it’s been sitting outside neglected (aside from the occasional watering) in typhoons, hot sun and ever-present pollution. Not once did this tree cry It Sucks, Out Here! Bring Me In Or I’ll Just Wither And Die.
We don’t go out on the balcony much, just out of habit from having little children I don’t allow out there. But like so many apartments in Hong Kong, I find it slightly awe-inspiring living in a tiny light flanked by all these other tiny lights stacked one on top of the other in tall, tall columns. Not for me one of those homes where you are the only living, breathing humans for miles.
My first time living away from home was at CJ Hostel, along Whitley Road overlooking the Expressway (a.k.a. 10 Minutes From Orchard Road). Like so many Malaysians, I was 17 and haven’t lived at my parents’ home since. In my A-levels year, a family tragedy had me close to developing an eating disorder (not the kind where you don’t want to eat or deliberately throw up, more like you can’t stop throwing up even though you don’t want to lose the food), and so I sought counseling because I wanted to make sure I didn’t become a head case and mess my A-levels up. (I also told myself that if I got the 3As I wanted I’d allow myself the luxury of telling my beloved home tutor the truth (just cos she’d always thought I was just this happy teenager and everything was just hunky dory since I was a “good girl” in class), otherwise I wouldn’t, because I didn’t want it to be like an excuse for not getting the 3As.)
My hostel room overlooked the Expressway and when I felt rotten I’d remind myself that each of those lights speeding up and down on the road were all these different people, each going about their own lives. Families. Whole different lives. To any of these lights, whatever it was that was bothering me probably wasn’t that big a deal. Kids still got to go to school. People still had jobs to come home from. We lived in this part of the world (<sheepish> yes this is what I used to tell myself as a teen – great shades of reading up for a good General Paper essay )
Anyway, the flash of the blindingly obvious was that it’s never a level playing field. No, those other guys aren’t facing an A-Levels year while not being able to keep food down, but it’s gonna be real hard explaining that to the person marking your paper. Life Not Fair is so Doesn’t Need Be Pointed Out we Can’t Even. You just have to try and do the best you can with the hand you’re dealt because everyone begins the race at a different starting point. And then you have to run anyway. (Also why at the end of the day I think exams are just bullshit – hello, Bill Gates – they’re just so people know you are a fairly properly functioning human being who can hold a pen and remember some facts right up until you grow up, buy up their organization and abolish exams forever – YAY!)
But Paul said to run the race with endurance.
So anyway that whole thing is why I like to live where there are lotsa lights. HK high rises are just perfect for that, nearly all our apartment windows overlook columns and columns of lights, you don’t even need to be on a balcony. You never feel like the only human being with problems (more like insignificant with insignificant problems so you need to grow a few oranges).
I wonder how many times Little Orange Tree, forgotten on our balcony, looked out at those lights. At some point it started bearing fruit again. And then it was time to start cleaning and decorating for Chinese New Year and look for a tree and I saw the little oranges and brought the tree in, instead of getting a new one. Recycled the leftover ribbons from Rockstar’s used Christmas crackers. Taped on some lai see. The whole thing took me 5 minutes. At a time when I was absolutely wretched with a cold, had to wake the oversleeping helper up (she’s always sorry – she’s not lazy but the way she works is just really not smart no matter how much I try to tell her so sometimes she’s exhausted) to get Rockstar’s breakfast after I spent the night taking care of the baby while Kings was in Singapore.
It only took me 5 minutes. And here we have Pretty Tree.
Kudos to you, Little Tree, you’re the one who somehow managed to bear fruit again. I’m sorry, humans are pretty awful, most will only notice you when you are bearing fruit, or have pretty flowers or leaves. They’re not going to realize they didn’t remember to give you any plant food or well, do anything for you so you could bear fruit to begin with. But I promise to keep the kids from plucking your leaves and fruit. And I think there’s even some plant food lying around. It’s the least I can do.
And so we are ready for the year of the Snake.
Have a wonderful, blessed Chinese New Year, everyone. May you run the race with endurance. May your orange trees bear fruit again.
(And that’s the Little Miss
eating feeding the dog Gerber puffs I’m not sure she’s ready for since she doesn’t crawl with tummy off the floor yet but she is seriously fussy about food and I wanted her to sit nicely for awhile. So she had Gerber puffs she could eat fling about. It’s possible like, two might have made it into her mouth.)
Ps: 6pm yesterday in Hong Kong, it was amazing how many obviously local parents were still out with their kids on trikes and stuff at the Peak trail… We thought it would be totally deserted, but though quieter than usual, the number of kids with their parents actually outnumbered the number of people walking their dogs…
And…. we saw the Seattle Seagals at the Peak! They must be touring HK! Kings wondered if they were a pageant, all nicely made-up and in Seagal jackets, so I googled them; Wikipedia says they’re some of the most intensely trained NFL cheerleaders.
Pps: My parents couldn’t bear to leave their sick Border Collie at the vet’s, and then my inlaws didn’t want to come over either, so we promised to make a trip when the baby’s older and doesn’t hate travel so much. This is the first ever CNY we are the four of us (in more ways than one!) and one dog, and well JD had her CNY Eve on her favorite trail yesterday so she’s been contentedly sleeping in this morning (but I guarantee she wakes in time for her regular morning walk)…
Update: Sorry I forgot to mention I did get the 3 A Level As, til someone asked..