My Idea of a Good Trip

Train from GZ to HK, New Year 2015

Around 9 p.m. on the No. 810 bus back from the Guangzhou East Railway Station to the Guangdong TV Station stop, annoyance crept into every corner of my mind.

Thoughts raced. I sat staring outside the window with what I assumed looked like a pissed, pensive demeanor.

Outwardly, it didn’t make sense. It didn’t look like I should have anything to be annoyed about. I had just spent my first New Year in Hong Kong in an overpriced hotel in Kowloon under my parents’ bill. I had my mom’s friends show me around, treat me to too many meals, take me to the train station, sit and wait with me, show me off and invite me to return soon.

But that’s the thing.

I didn’t want company. Except for on New Year’s Eve, all I kept longing for was some time alone. But whenever I tried—with the most politeness I could muster to mask any ungratefulness—insisting that I be left alone, I would be met with such resistance.

“But you don’t know how to get around,” they would say.

But that’s the point! I wanted to yell from the cage in which I found myself trapped. To them, they possess this motherly obligation to take care of me and make sure my days are not spent alone or exploring on my own. To the highest degree, it pained me to see so clearly that they simply could not imagine leaving me to fend for myself.

How could I possibly enjoy myself, though, being so acutely aware of how ridiculously Second Mother this seemed?

“My husband has a day off tomorrow. Where do you want to go? He’ll drive you wherever you want.”

At this point, my appreciation can only go so far (so get ready). Yes, I’m 22. Whether you feel the need to add “only” before that, 22-year-olds like me—who have moved around the world to settle in a country without fluency in its language, without arguably deep knowledge of the place, with substandard living and working conditions, with unexpected daily difficulties, along with a host of other shit—would like to think that we can manage navigating a modern international city like Hong Kong for a few hours without Mom’s friends in accompaniment.

I know. It sounds terribly ungrateful, rude—bitchy, even.

But I realized something. My idea of a good trip no longer needs to involve others. Having lived on my own for these months, I’ve developed a sense of independence that, when diminished in any way, angers me, makes me feel so inferior as to think that it’s as if all those months were for naught. But they weren’t, and I only wish I had the sense and the guts to find the best way to express these feelings, to make them understand that they don’t need to feel this obligation to keep me safe (read: bored), that making mistakes and not knowing what to do are all part of the thrill of traveling, the steps to develop myself.

I also realized that it didn’t matter whatsoever frankly what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. My answers would inevitably be met with excuses—whether valid or not—for not doing them or not going somewhere.

For future trips, I’m making the decisions. Save for my parents on the other side of the world and eventually you readers, I’m not telling anyone.

They’ll just be between you and me.

Let the adventures begin.