My parents and I share the view that for most of my life, I have not experienced homesickness whenever away from what "home of the moment" might be. For the first seventeen years of my life, I grew up in Oregon. I started to leave home for short periods, spanning a few days to three months, during summers. After starting college, my time away from Oregon increased to six or more months. By my fourth and final undergraduate year, I still referred to the place where I was born and raised as my hometown, but I enjoyed being a transplant with thin but tight roots in my college town. The college town became my home base for the subsequent ten years while I went back and forth from China, Taiwan, Korea, and very short trips to Europe. I said good-bye to that place three years ago to take up my first job away, and after two years, replaced it with the city in which I worked and lived. When WH took his job in yet another place, that town became "second home," but more out of respect for WH's presence there rather than because of genuine attachment.
I am sure some proverb exists about an experience occurring eventually, and for me, I finally started to feel subtle but explicit pangs of homesickness this past year. I could distinguish them from cultural shock, work-related stress, and all of the other emotions I expected to feel. I know that being a foreigner is always challenging, unless one is equipped with tremendous amounts of money, power, as well as vast support networks of friends, relatives, and subordinates to mitigate all the problems of marginalization. The critical difference between this "trip out" and all others preceding is that I plan to stay away and settle down in this new home city until death do we part. Resolving to make a long-term commitment (scarier and arguably less satisfying than promising one's all to spouse or children) has sapped a bit of the flavor out of my life, and inspired memories of my previous homes.
All of these thoughts relate to the coffee part of the blog in the sense that I began to enjoy coffee in the US and learned the ins and outs of such appreciation there. I hope that in the coming months, I will learn more about how a precious few manage to imbibe real coffee here in Hong Kong, and as such, how I can long less for places, in a trite way, that may only have flavored my past but not my future.