One of the center-pieces of the
Hong Kong Island Mid-Autumn Lantern Carnival
held in Victoria Park this year
Close-up shot of the glowing dragon
at the top of that mega lantern structure
at the top of that mega lantern structure
Advance warning: Firstly, that this is going to be a more personal post than the ones I've been writing lately. Furthermore, that this is going to be a rather schizophrenic post. I.e., the two photos bear testimony to it being written on the night of what's variously known to -- and celebrated by -- the Chinese as the Lantern, Mooncake and Mid-Autumn Festival. Also, my decision to include a dragon into the picture(s) partly stems from last night, tonight and tomorrow night also seeing the commemoration of a Fire Dragon Festival that I spent part of yesterday evening checking out.
At the same time, my main reason for posting this evening is to commemorate the fact that I've turned 40 (yes: forty!) today -- and to mark this occasion by taking some time to reflect a bit and recall where I was, and what I was up to (or felt), on a few of my more notable birthdays. (And, in the process, give some more evidence for how itinerant and international my life thus far has been...)
E.g., my 10th birthday was spent in England -- and strange as it may seem, my abiding memories of that day include watching a TV special about a then yet-to-be released (in the U.K., if not the U.S.A.) sci-fi movie entitled Star Wars, being taken to Brands Hatch to watch a Grand Prix (and while there, having my first crepe!), and being presented with a birthday cake that contained copious amounts of two of my favorite fruits (strawberries and bananas!) at a birthday party held in the back garden of the house in Beckenham, Kent that I was staying in at the time!
In contrast, my 16th birthday was spent back in my family home in Penang, Malaysia. Even more surreally, the only thing I remember about this birthday was waking up to see my father gazing at me amusedly and then asking a still not-completely-awake me: "So, how does it feel to be sweet sixteen?" And my feeling rather insulted by the idea that I, in my 16th year or at any other time, might be considered "sweet"! ;D
Then it was back to England for my 18th birthday. For some reason, I can't remember the exact details but I was probably at (boarding) school in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire on the day itself. On the other hand, remember well that the weekend saw the then budding foodie in London and getting taken out to a nice restaurant as a birthday treat by a family friend with whom I've since, unfortunately, lost touch. (To Mrs. Shelley Moore: if you somehow ever stumble across this blog, hope you're keeping well and thanks for the memories!)
The next year saw me celebrating my 19th birthday in Beloit, Wisconsin. The best memories of the day include the women's soccer (association football) team I was a part of at college beating the University of Chicago's women's varsity team by 4 goals to 1. And, after the game ended and the news somehow was conveyed to the people present in Strong Stadium, everyone proceeding to sing "Happy Birthday" to me!!! :)))
My landmark 21st birthday also was spent at Beloit. Strangely, however, it really wasn't as memorable as that which occured two years before! Instead, all I remember was feeling some regret that I was now a bona fide adult, yet still felt more like a gangly girl than grown woman... ;S
Now we fast forward to birthday number 30. Spent in Philadelphia -- and taking place in the wake of one of the most disastrous episodes of my eventful but still young life. Have to say that in contrast to just nine years earlier, I really felt -- if not old, then scarred and weary. And even if it's not taken me a lifetime to recover from what felt like a living nightmare for quite a while there, it has taken me more years than I would like... :S
Anyways, that's now in the past (thank goodness!), and here I am celebrating birthday number 40. If truth be told, it's not been very festive thus far; not least because it's the first birthday in years on which I had to work! At the same time, have to say that I'm not feeling as traumatized as I thought I would be upon hitting the big 4-0. (Not yet, anyways!) So, hey, surely that's something to celebrate? Oh, and the fact that I got/get to spend it as an official resident of Hong Kong, of course! :)