City of Fragrant Harbor

Three years ago on a random night, my wife and I were craving good dimsum. Shortly after, we booked a flight out to Hong Kong on a whim. As our departing date approached, COVID-19 cases started to escalate. We wrongly assumed good dimsum was not worth getting COVID, so we reluctantly surrendered our non-refundable tickets to Hong Kong.

Haju enjoying the view

A week ago, my family flew out to Hong Kong to attend a wedding of our friends. We wanted to be in Hong Kong to support our friends and to redeem our dumb mistake three years ago! When we booked the tickets, a soft quarantine rule was still in place. But the quarantine rule was removed just a few days before our departure. What a timely change it was, and we managed to join the whole thing. It was my first time attending a wedding with my son, and I barely sat through the ceremony as my son needed his daily dose of running around. I babysat (more like babyran) in the back. I would periodically peek inside to catch the first kiss.

When the plane touched down on the landing strip of Hong Kong International airport, the rumbling sound felt like a symbolic (and cathartic) end to the pandemic, figuratively shattering restrictions that shackled us for the past three years. Throughout our time in Hong Kong, we were showered with undeserving generosity. People offered rides, paid for our meals, helped us with logistics, and volunteered to be our local tour guides.

These old friends used to be more than just friends. We needed each other to survive the bitterly cold winter of Ann Arbor. From airport rides to grocery shopping buddies, we ate, laughed, cried, and lived together like a family. Unfortunately, human relationship tends to deteriorate when not given consistent touch. The second law of thermodynamics states that disorder (entropy) always increases. It is a ruthless law, and it decays everything it touches. It was evident that our friendship showed a sign of increased entropy as we did not know intimate details of each others’ lives as we once did. Although I felt sad that our friendships weren’t as intimate, I was pleased to see my friends getting married because, in my opinion, marriage is one of the most entropy-defying acts available to us. It is a lifelong commitment to be with one another so that they remain intimate despite ever increasing entropy. This commitment is both expensive and expansive. It costs us, yet fills our lives with countless experiences that would not have been possible alone.

When I was running around chasing my son, I got teary seeing baby photos of the bride and the groom with their fathers because they reminded me of the duality of creating a new family. It is challenging and rewarding, creative and destructive, exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. I was thankful for their parents who labored many days and nights to raise the couple, who touched so many lives around them. I thought of how, at times, raising my son can feel so costly, yet I certainly hope my son would enrich many lives around him in the future.

I left Hong Kong knowing that some friendships will continue to digress to greater entropy, and the best way to offset weakening friendships is to live my life to the fullest wherever I will be. So that when we have a chance to rekindle our friendships, we have new friends to introduce, new perspectives to ponder, new experiences to share, new babies to hug, and fullest lives to savor together.

Dear Tim & Lydia,

Thank you for inviting our whole family to Hong Kong. I loved reconnecting with everyone in Hong Kong. Thankful that our paths crossed many years ago and that we share so many great memories together. Hope you two will get to build even greater memories as a married couple. Now that I saw your first kiss, I look forward to hugging your babies soon.

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