PREVIOUS POST: Return To Kowloon, Part 4: Finally Returning to Kowloon
As my mother pointed out when we arrived for the first time at this hospital, Saint Teresa is the patron saint of headache sufferers and writers.
Holy Kowloon, I couldn’t have picked a better hospital!
So it made sense to go back. They saved my life, they treated me well, they had really good fried rice, and they cut a few grand off the final bill so I didn’t have any hiccups with my insurance. Overall, a five star hospital in my book of hospital ratings (which only includes 2 hospitals, both of which have 5 stars.)
So as I walked up Argyle avenue, for the first time in two years I could see her standing above me– exactly as I had remembered her:
And as soon as I got inside, she was right there to greet me! Even holding a pink rose for me– one of my favorites. I’ll you, that St. Terry really knows how to make a guy feel welcome.
So we chatted for a few minutes, talked about the new season of Downton Abbey, and I thanked her for watching over me all this time. She chastised me for not blogging enough, but she’s really psyched about the movie project I’m working on. She said she wants “that chick from Avatar” to play her. And I couldn’t disagree.
But anyway, she had to get back to work so I ran upstairs to the 8th floor with a lump in my throat, and there I saw it!
My Home Away From Home!
This is where I lived for a couple of weeks, where I would try my best to sneak past the nurses station in running sneakers and shorts and if caught try to convince them I was just going down to Starbucks for a cup of tea. (Saint Teresa has her own Starbucks.)
And guess what?! Many of them were there! MY nurses! The absolutely wonderfully caring and compassionate and professional women who made me feel at every instant in this place that I was being cared for. That all the very best things were being done for me. Although they didn’t allow me to sneak beers in. OK wait one time they did.
AND THEY REMEMBERED ME! AND I REMEMBERED THEM! And I even got to see one of my favorites, who was so shy she wouldn’t let me take a picture of her. (But I got one anyway. That’s her on the right with the red hair.)
And here are two of the other wonderful women who kept my head in one piece way back when, and who i owe for even being able to think about a Return to Kowloon…
So now, after all that walking, I found myself conveniently hungry. Fried rice!
So I bolted to the cantine. (Somebody was occupying my room, so I couldn’t eat in bed like the old days, unfortunately.)
3:08pm – St Teresa’s Cantine
At the cantine, just ate some delicious rice with pork that is almost as good, but they don’t have the friend rice ready until 5pm. Good news is I don’t have a brain tumor. And I’m allowed to leave here whenever I want. And if I don’t get the fried rice this time… I can always come back! I love this place– all they do is treat me nice and save my life.
And right there, from the widow in the cantine, I could see that mountain out the window… that one I always wanted to climb, every single day I lay in my hospital bed.
I already have my sneakers on…
and I bought those cheap shorts and backpack…
all I need is a bottle of water and maybe a cold beer and…
I think I’m gonna go climb up that mountain right now.
Because I am HERE.
And I am ALIVE.
And I CAN.
5:56pm – Several Hours Later — Lion Rock Park
After about a 4-5 mile run/walk/hike through the city from St Teresa’s, you reach a Buddhist monastery at the edge of the park. Just walk up this last excruciatingly steep block, and make a left on that cement staircase up there at the end…
And from there, you hit jungle.
Like real, dense jungle. On a 70 degree incline.
But it’s beautiful. And quiet.
Suddenly the city of 7 million people below disappears into a faint whisper.
Just follow the fuschia ribbons… (Every time you think “Am I really doing this?” or “Am I going the right way?” you’ll see another one.)
And once I was about halfway up the mountain, at least 1,000 feet above Saint Teresa’s, I saw another sign:
Little did that sign know, those are the same sneakers I used to run a solo marathon in Newfoundland. (Did I really run a solo marathon in Newfoundland?) This hike wasn’t a marathon, but with the hills and the views and the emotional subtext it kind of felt like one. So there was no way me and those sneakers were gonna get stopped by a sign.
So we looked for the next ribbon (there it is! right up there!) and up we went! (“We” being me, my sneakers, and my t-shirt. And Dutch the Dog, in spirit.)
And when we got there, this is what it looked like:
Which was pretty great. So I drank a beer.
And four bottles of green tea. (I was thirsty.)
Look mom! You can see Saint Teresa’s from here!
And that is why I came back here.
I came back to go to a place I’d never been to before.
And now that I am here, on top of Lion Rock Mountain, standing on the very place I had stared up at every day those two years ago– what do I do now?
I scream at the top of my lungs. To that guy down there with the bandages on his head. To tell him that he can get up here one day, if he just tries. Really hard. If he doesn’t give up. And if he keeps up doing all the things that feel like they’re important, no matter what stands in his way (clouds, nausea, diminished cognitive capabilities, deep daily existential crises, etc.).
I told him he could– he WOULD– get up here on this mountain. All he has to do is keep going. Because here we are.
And then, we decided (me and that guy, 2 years ago, looking up at me) that we should leave something behind. Something for us to mark the fact that we made it back. On our terms.
And it was beautiful, and sun shiney, and it felt fucking great.
So I pulled off my (very sweaty) I FLEW TO HONG KONG AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY BRAIN TUMOR t-shirt (which I actually designed in that hospital bed that I can see from here). And I tied it up with a fuschia ribbon, and I buried it.
On the top of Lion Rock Mountain.
I flew all the way back to Hong Kong, and all I left behind was my lousy brain tumor t-shirt.
And that is why I came back here.
I came back here to leave something behind.
NEXT POST: “Escape From Hong Kong 2: Leaving Things Behind.”