I baked two loaves of bread today. They're not perfect--they're a bit lopsided, neither of them grew very big. I used only whole wheat flour and had them already in the pan and rising by the time I googled why you shouldn't do that. But they're dense, and crusty, and perfect for a sardine sandwich, which I happily ate as a reward, on my new wooden desk that looks exactly like my old wooden desk, as Strauss drifted gently from the radio in our sunny Leslieville apartment.
It's been 2017 for 13 days; I turn 28 in two weeks. We settled into a life in Toronto faster and smoother than I think either of us thought we would. We passed the holidays, went for dim sum. We found an apartment in record time, moved in on a cold day in late December without a hitch. Now our living room is our living room again, with our old familiar furniture and art on the walls.
If I really concentrate, I can see what Toronto looked like to us as we descended in the plane. I didn't cry leaving Hong Kong, but I cried when we landed: I saw a landscape so straight, it could have served as a ruler; bare trees dotting the horizon holding up a giant, heavy white sky. Unobstructed fields below us laid out in perfect squares, lined by wide highways. It was early winter in Ontario looking like early winter in Ontario, and I was coming home. My mom picked me up and as we drove to her condo, I couldn't help marveling at how sparsely populated the wide sidewalks were, how weird and soulless the glass-balconied buildings surrounding Yonge St. looked, how nobody smoked or walked staring on their phones, just kept their hands in their pockets but walked with wider, leisurely strides, relishing their ample personal space. When we returned, a lot of people asked us if we felt any culture shock, but neither of us did, really. If we lived in Hong Kong longer, maybe we would have. But at the time it felt like we were pulled back, as if magnetically, into our rightful place and everything just seemed kind of normal, in a way that we hadn't experienced in a year and therefore were grateful for, but otherwise mostly unremarkably so.
I'm not generally a patient person. I pulled the bread out of the oven too early, I think. I shop with haste, blurt out thoughts partly-formed, begin to worry when I haven't heard a response from someone in an hour. I guess this is something I'm working on, by will and by circumstance. Moving back to Toronto, with its frequent subway interruptions and "relaxed," often gratingly slow customer service style, is trying but manageable. After all, when you don't spend your day packed in crowds, you can take your time. But adjusting to the pace of every day life is sometimes hard. I think about where else to fly off to next, other cities I'd like to live in, fantasy planning trips and visits to my friends in far-off lands. I think, "Well I did it once, I could easily do it again." And with any hope, I will, in a few short years. But at this point in my life, it's harder to sit still than to get up and move. And for many reasons, I need to learn how to sit still right now.
I've been asked whether or not I will keep blogging. In Hong Kong, our weekends were filled with ferry trips to new islands, hikes and astonishingly new views, evening walks amidst the chaos of Kowloon, new foods at every turn. This blog was a way to keep in contact with my friends back home and give them a glimpse of our life over there. But these days, life looks a lot like me reading a book while I wait for bread to finish baking. It's sitting down to dinner with my family or hanging out with Maddie or Hiroki here in our living room. It's a comforting existence, filled with quiet self-exploration and ambitious meals and the small joys of putting that one great thing up in the home we can truly call our own; all of these things that I couldn't quite manage in Hong Kong. So I'm not really sure if I have a purpose for the blog anymore. Maybe I'll update occasionally but not post to Facebook. Maybe I'll do this as TinyLetter, which would have been a better medium for this anyway. Or maybe I'll just leave this here as a temporary send-off and hope that when I pick it up again, it will be with photos of distant lands and awkward anecdotes about what not to do in a Japanese pachinko parlour or whatever. In the meantime, I wish you all good health, and many small victories. I hope 2017 surprises you in only positive ways, and that we all learn to become better humans together on this earth.