An ex-marine, a PE teacher slash rugby player slash crossfit star, a documentary film-maker coming from the front-lines of Ukraine, a gorgeous gay farmer from Oklahoma, a Barbie-looking tv producer from Seattle, and myself walk into an AirBnb to get ready for a wedding up at a ranch in Colorado . . . not the beginning of a weird joke, but the beginning of an amazing weekend.
I lived with Suz for three years in Hong Kong, completely by the happiest accident ever. We were the best of friends, she was my Suz-mate. Close as sisters, zero judgment, all kinds of encouragement, liked the same Netflix shows to be projected against our door while we lounged on the couch and ordered Deliveroo on a Sunday. She left Hk in March 2020 during those scary early Covid days and it was devastating, but worked out super well for her because she met and got engaged to someone who turned out to be pretty cool, based on the very weird answers he gave me at the bar during the drinks meeting night. (“What are your intentions with my friend?” is what I asked. I always love doing that.)
Whenever I went anywhere with Suz, I called her the Mayor of Hong Kong, because she would always run into someone she knew. A lot of those people who she touched deeply came to the Rockies for a weekend wedding adventure we won’t soon forget. Suz and I both cried upon seeing each other, and it was magical to have conversation time and to hang out with the diverse and dedicated-to-being-cool people she calls friends. I walked away with several new ones.
We hiked, we went out on boat tours and learned about the weekend the Hells Angels came to town in the 70s to cause mayhem. We saw moose, bald eagles, muskrats, marmots and osprey. We went wake-boarding, line-danced, stayed up late at night watching Youtube videos about Harry Styles, and even paddle-boated in that sleepy lakeside town.
Her wedding was gorgeous – the only day out of five I spent in Colorado where it didn’t rain. The fun part was our shuttle arriving late and me running off of it and directly to the front to give my bible verse reading. Suz was none the wiser – I broke into a complete body sweat afterwards.
Because she and her now-husband are so fun, we danced and even played organized games during the reception hours – I was in a contest to eat a fruit-by-the-foot as fast as I could without using my hands. I lost with minimal pouting. We all kicked up a storm in our cowboy boots and twirled around with the kids and lost our voices to every song.
An unexpectedly lovely side-bonus to the trip was hanging out with women my age, going for drinks and hikes, talking about the struggles of dating and not wanting to raise anyone’s son, discussing career moves, parental pressures, the toxicity of comparison so rampant in today’s world. We got to encourage each other, listen to our stories of heartache and remake, recommend podcasts and books while we waded through marshy swamp water, being attacked by aggressive squirrels, admiring meadows, and getting filled up on a temporary yet lasting kind of sisterhood that was important to us all in a real way.
When I become a millionaire, anyone I’ve ever met is getting all the therapy you need. We deserve it.
As tired as they must have been, Suz and Gary were awesome hosts and entertained us all for days. What I most wanted to see was a best friend truly happy, and I did. Best of luck to you both. I’ll be back, soon. <3
The last days of home
After the best of weeks in Colorado, where I got to see so many people I love that have been a part of my life even despite the long distances between us, I also scrambled down to LA and back for a wedding of an old friend from Hope Center, the church I grew up going to in Pleasant Hill. To LA and back in 58 hours hours but managed to eat In-N-Out, tan, work out, have deep conversations and silly ones, dance, sweat through my dress in the beautiful SoCal sun, and feel really lucky to get to spend time with good friends.
Then it was home to snuggle with pups and fit in last minute Los Panchos and family time while wrestling a bunch of things I probably didn’t need into suitcases. Tears were very much involved. I think it’s easier to get upset about packing than it is to get upset about ending a brilliant summer, because my family would only helpfully point out that it’s me that always does the leaving.
My flights were long across the Pacific but uneventful. Really disappointed that no one so much as looked at me when we crossed the international date line. I didn’t even watch anything new on the screens . . . I find the amount of choice overwhelming and I always have a lot to think about so I focused on eating all my snacks and the homemade bread my mom had made me, still warm, and looking out the window during turbulence like I could identify the cause and offer a cure.
Compared to the last three summers, getting through the many stages of anti-Covid craziness was much smoother and I think I was at my hotel about four hours after landing, compared to waiting 17 hours in a convention hall the first summer I came back. The government changed from 7 day mandatory quarantine to a 3 day requirement on the very day I landed, and I was in the same hotel as a few friends! We signed waivers and got special keys to allow us to be able to open our windows and braved the heat and humidity to wave at each other and toast across the way. At night we had pub quizzes over Zoom, I read three books, fought jetlag, and signed up for Tinder and Bumble again, back on my nonsense with that, but it does pass the time.
Reuniting with my little studio flat and checking in with my plants and walking around the neighbourhood and then on the water brought all the usual enjoyments. The surly doormen seemed disappointed I had returned once again and offered ZERO help as I dragged my luggage in, but my laundry lady and the staff at the Circle K were happy to see me (I’ve developed a bit of a Ribena addiction). So we’ll call it a win. Here’s to year six in Hong Kong!