Another first in a year of first’s.
I’d come to Hong Kong for Gail and, I suppose on some level, myself. I wanted to do something for her that, had she been watching, she would have loved me for. Finding her birthplace was special and visiting the part of the city where she’d resided in her first couple of years was wonderful. But this was also a cover for some other things that I wasn’t sure I could cope with at home; our anniversary, Valentine’s Day and my birthday.
My birthday post read more like a travelogue or an entry in TripAdvisor but hidden behind the flippant comment was a searing realisation that, firstly, this would be my birthday from here on in, and secondly, this was me toughing this out and – as our American cousin’s might have it – ‘owning the moment’. Funnily enough, I really wasn’t fussed by the food in the restaurant I chose for my birthday meal, but I did and I put myself out of comfort zone in the process.
As it happened, my travel plans dictated that it was to be an odd birthday anyway, as the flight back home was at 0:30am on the following day, so the latter part of the day was spent checking out of the hotel, making my way to the airport, spending an anxious wait time in case I got stopped for bringing back Gail’s ashes (I needn’t have worried they didn’t even check!) before boarding the flight back home.
Nevertheless, I’d done what I set out to do and I knew Gail would have been in thrall for what I’d managed on my own and with ‘her’. I understood the fact that many others thought I was possibly playing on the edges of sanity by taking my dead wife on holiday, but I was homeward bound and sitting on an aircraft by the time my birthday ended and I felt, if not happy – how could I be? – then exhilarated and contented.
I was taking Gail home and she would now go back to our bedroom and stay there until I joined her and then we could make our last journey together.
I’m genuinely not whinging about this – I could have stayed at home but chose not too – but being alone on your birthday is odd. For the first time ever, no-one has verbally wished me a Happy Birthday and celebrating on yer larry is decidedly tricky. Bottom line is, eating alone on such a day can be fraught.
So I eschewed the usual steak and wine route and went to Dim Dim Sum in Wan Chai which has been voted by chefs as one of 101 best places to eat in the world. Fried Octopus, Beef Tripe with ginger, Pineapple buns, Poached pear with shredded mandarin peel, Chocolate wine and jasmin tea.
Note to self: steak and chips next year….