A week has passed since I entered Arrivals Hall B at the Hong Kong International Airport and ran straight into my mother’s arms. In the days between then and now, I’ve realized that being home hasn’t been half as exhausting and exasperating as I thought it’d be. I expected I’d need at least five days to physically and mentally recuperate (read: stay at home resting, eating well and listening to Brazilian music) before announcing my presence to the world.
In the end, a day’s rest was enough: on Sunday I met up with 3/7ths of the jovial Bridge Year China group, with whom I went to what was my fourth (or my fifth) June 4th Vigil in Victoria Park. Of course, the idea of being home was eased somewhat by the company of fellow Bridge Year kids, who could share in the experience of having been away for so long. (Besides, it meant I could talk about all things Brazil-related and not feel slightly redundant or obnoxiously ‘gap-yah’-esque.)
But what I’ve found comforting is the fact that the transition hasn’t been so hard — in all kinds of settings. A thought that simultaneously relieves and worries me.
I’ve returned to a routine I feel comfortable in: eating oats for breakfast, going hiking on Mount Parker (a much missed walk), seeing people who I’ve seen frequently for the past several years of my life, etc. In most, if not all, of these contexts, I feel like the same person I was before — which is comforting, as I don’t feel ‘misplaced’ post-Brazil, but slightly befuddling as it makes me wonder how Brazil has changed me.
Is that important?
To me, yes: I believe that to give an experience justice is to let it change you or the way you think about certain things.
And, to a certain degree, Brazil has changed things. Whenever people ask me the (somewhat dreaded) question How was Brazil?, one of the reflections I offer always has to do with how I’ve ‘become more mellow’. Mellow is but a word, and giving one-word responses has never been my favourite. Yet it’s true — I think I’m a lot calmer when I’m without guarantees for how I’ll spend my time, I’m a lot less stressed out by previous stressors (e.g. my parents) and I’m generally more OK with giving myself me-time and not doing anything in particular.
(Alright, maybe that’s a bit optimistic. In recent days I’ve grown a little antsy over my self-perceived lack of productivity, which has included my inability to write a blog post post-arrival… so I guess I’m debunking my own claim with these very paragraphs. Oops.)
I’m also certainly more conscious about my environmental impact. Whenever I shop for groceries, I spend ages looking at where the products are from and/or how much packaging is used. I find myself in conundrums when a locally produced good comes in more plastic packaging than a non-local one (I’m hoping Quora will answer this doubt). I try to take public transportation as much as possible, I still carry around my insane 1L water bottle, and I haven’t bought any material goods since coming back home.
But then again, there are moments I find myself becoming complacent. Sometimes I feel like I create excuses for myself. For instance — my parents still buy mineral water in bottles, which I tried to talk them out of. I suggested a filter, to which they responded that they’d rather not. But instead of arguing further, I always relent under the assumption that it’s their house, not mine (for very long at least). I also find myself waiting around to start a lot of cool projects (like making DIY cosmetics, planting, etc) because my family’s moving pretty soon, which is a fairly good reason but certainly disempowering after my initial drive and conviction.
So — that is the state of things. I’m mostly happy, but also feeling a little complacent and very tired… all of which is understandable, but frustrating. I want to be able to express more of my philosophical changes in my life beyond the colorful headbands and funky earrings, but for now I feel slightly put on-hold. We’ll see where I am by the end of the summer.