Tea Breaks: Goodbye to a Friend

Tea Breaks is an ongoing experiment of sorts, in an attempt to fit in a bit of the going-ons in my life. So every Monday, I talk a little bit about what happened last week, and occasionally a little bit about my own plans!

This week hasn’t been a good week for Hong Kong. For starters, someone set themselves and the subway carriage on fire, causing everyone on the MTR to evacuate in a panic. It shook many people to the core, given that it’s been well over a decade since the last arson attack on the MTR had happened. So far, the police are still investigating, and rumours are abound that the man who perpetrated the attack was mentally ill.

But if you’d excuse me… there’s something for me that’s personally more important.

I had a last lunch with a friend last week – she’s going to Australia to pursue a Doctor in Jurisprudence. I know I’ll be seeing her during the summer, and she’ll be coming back after three years, but… there’s always that strange twinge whenever a friend you’ve known since you were very young leaves.

It’s a strange feeling for me, because of the history we share. Our relationship used to be very turbulent. When I say turbulent, I mean we used to swing between best friends forever to absolutely loathing each other, and everything in between. This was in part due to our immaturity, my lack of understanding, and her own issues – family breakdowns, depression, bullying.

I’ve watched her change, too. From being angry, snapping, lonely, and constantly bullied, she’s grown calmer, more stable, and more self-assured. She has friends – few, but she treasures those. To those that don’t know her, she’s become more superficial, warbling on social media about her wardrobe, her newest clothes, or a brand new brand name(!) handbag.

But beneath all that, her mind is still as sharp as she used to be back in primary school, when she could rattle off the entire timeline of Tolkien, draw up their genealogies and explain how the Elves were linked, and why the dwarves went to war. She could recite Baudelaire on a whim, and write stories about dusty wastelands and dead men coming back to life.

She still can, and she still does, although she keeps it mostly to herself. She debates history, culture, and the landscape of the current political climate over tea, and in the same breath can fangirl over actors, or musicians, or just the guys she’s met over the weekend on a holiday.

Deep down, I know Australia will be good for her – away from her overbearing, sometimes toxic family, away from the notoriety she has, for being ill-tempered, or superficial, or brash, or simply being slandered by cruel girls back at our secondary school. In Australia, she has a clean slate to start over, and she will grow, that much I am sure.

But I will miss our cafe outings, us sitting for hours in a restaurant until someone kicks us out because they have to close. I’ll miss listening to her rambling, how we both bounce ideas off each other for our short stories and novels. I’ll miss having someone who can catch up to my mental gymnastics, as we hurtle from topic to topic with seemingly no connection to each other.

I hope Australia will treat you well. And when you come back, or if the sea seems a little too far apart – well, you you’ll know where to find me.


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