About an 2 hrs ago, I returned from what I remember as being my longest holiday since 2002. A whopping three weeks of fun in the good ol' US of A. (where have all those long uni holidays gone? Damn work!)
One of the most interesting points during this trip was when I was with my aunties in New Jersey. They had previously studied and lived in New York for around eight to ten years and in that time had obviously made a number of friends. Being far from home and in a new country, I imagined that it would be tough. They informed me that it was, as they had to work to help fund their way through college and had to live. It seemed rather strange as practically all my life I had known them to be in Hong Kong working as professionals. I forget they that they too went through a period of time whereby they had to study and work with minimal qualifications - it was just a side I had never even thought about.
So there I was being introduced to my aunties' network of friends - many whom they had not seen in years (mind you they had not been back to NY for close to 20 years). What I received was the warmest of welcomes and great openness and frankness. They discussed everything imaginable and I casually asked, "So how did you all know each other?" There was a slight pause and then as if a floodgate of memories were opened, they began explaining me the story of how they met, studied together, found jobs together, lived together - I could tell that their rich history was such a strong and special bond.
Each of the four days I spent in New Jersey and New York was filled with meeting new people - friends and family alike - who had in some way crossed paths with my aunts. Unfortunately, some of the meetings were very brief and I knew that those minutes of catch up could not replace the years in between. But the conversations covered the past, the present and the future. For some odd reason it felt wonderful to listen in a part of my relative's lives which I had no idea even existed. Of course, my particpation in those conversations were minimal, which allowed me ample time to observe and appreciate the situation.
The night that my aunt's were leaving the hotel, they said, "Sorry that you had to follow us around for the last few days meeting our friends. You did not get to see as much of New York as you would have liked."
I shrugged and replied, "That's ok - it was good to see another side of you both that I had never seen before. I think I had seen a lot in those 4 days and I really do envy you both. I wish that my friendships last like yours and they can pick up where they left off."
They laughed, "Well, you still have time - we had been friends with those people before you were born!"
I felt like I was a young kid again - like the last time I was in NY.