When we dreamed up places we might want to live (besides the world’s most perfect city, Seattle), one of our priorities was safety. I wanted to be able to walk outside with our kiddo and not wonder if I was about to get mugged in broad daylight, like this guy. A lot of places we LOVE were ruled out, because my fear of dying is bigger than my sense of adventure, I guess. Mexico and Guatemala were checked off the list after too many true, not-just-blogged-about expat kidnapping anecdotes bubbled up. I understand that a lot of people in the world don’t have the luxury of steering clear of violence by way of rerouted job applications, but I’m grateful that we do.
Then a month before we left, a troubled young man with a gun came to the place I worked and loved and killed another young man. He shot two others and traumatized our community. After the shooting, I received a very kind note from our welcoming crew in Hong Kong, and it said, “Don’t worry–that’s something you will never, ever have to worry about here.”
So we packed up and waved goodbye to all the very-real risks of violence at home, and part of me kind of thought we’d get some immunity to All Hard Things. Because now we live in a city that actually doesn’t have violent crime. (Which is basically true and it blows my mind.)
But last week, my beloved former boss died suddenly in Seattle, and I realized (duh, so many duhs) how much moving to a new country, a country that fills all the modern requirements on my post-it list, won’t protect me or the people I love from the rough stuff. Even if I think I’m protected from violence here in Hong Kong, the rough is random and it never stops being rough.
Jennifer was steady and a real smartypants. She knew when to put up a fight and when to roll with the punches. She managed the communications crisis of a school shooting, our school shooting, with humanity and loads of care. She also helped me see myself as a writer, and she made me feel like a million bucks because she laughed so loudly at my jokes, even when I was monopolizing the staff meeting. (“Another way of doing business AND government.”)
I’m going to miss her, even in my Hong Kong cocoon. Here’s to loving each other well, since we’re not so immune after all.