Leaving the liminal
Leaving the liminal, a play on a book I recently read, is an excellent title for this blog post, in which I will cover the final months in Hong Kong and the first months back in Belgium. As I hinted at last time, my return to Hong Kong in September (2022) was marked by the temporality of it all. And it wasn’t the first time I was in this temporary zone – it had happened in autumn 2020 as well, as I was preparing for going to Hong Kong. This particular temporary transitional phase resembles the state of being on a threshold: not quite outside anymore but not yet inside either. In other words, a liminal phase.
And I entered just such a phase in the month leading up to my departure from the big kong. So let’s begin from where we left off last time, and enter the liminal.
One of the most salient hallmarks of my imminent departure were all the gatherings with friends and colleagues. I have enjoyed all of them, whether it was pizza party, home dinner, walk around the block or gathering on or under a roof.
Also the idea of liminality was felt most clearly at the following exact time: 7 December 2022 at around 21 o’clock. At this particular time I met up with my friend Rita on the beach – itself not quite land and not quite sea, between the wild nature of Lamma Island and the steampunk inducing Power Station, under the full moon. I had already officially left HKU, but not quite yet Hong Kong. But at the same time the liminal is a time and space where some of the most transformational things can happen, like me reflecting on and reappreciating the times past and the times ahead. Oh and we made a bonfire, which is always super fun.
I cannot stress enough how thankful I am that I met these people. Even though I left, I feel good knowing that I’ve taken a piece of them with me, in return for offering up a piece of myself to them. Thanks for being guiding stars in my life.
The final week
Apart from the stress induced by dealing with all the administration (in a broad term, including taxes, rental contracts, clearing out my apartment, avoiding mr Toxic), I kept thinking of what I wanted to do these final week. Other people might want to go hiking or whatever, but I just mostly wanted to revisit places I had enjoyed before. And that includes museums. Here are some pictures.
The last day
I went to Madame Tussaud’s, where I was alone. So of course I perfected my selfie skills and took *many* selfies memories I will treasure forever.
That time I got crowned to Miss Universe
That time I got kidnapped by the Hulk
That time I got to sing on stage with JJ Lin
That time Gaga wanted to take a pic with me
That time GEM and I were recording our new hit song
That time Jay Chou requested to work with me
That time Super Junior Siwon and I were on the red carpet
That time I got into a fight with Bruce Lee. Be like water my friends.
That time Marilyn and I stood on top of a vent
That time I visited Yayoi Kusuma in her natural habitat
That time I taught the Queen (RIP) how to take a selfie
That time I was sparkling in the sun with ~Edward Culllen~ Robert Pattinson
That time I got breakfast at Tiffany’s
Then I said goodbye to HKU
And then I left…
That’s right, I left Hong Kong to go to Taiwan for a week, to meet up with CJ, aka Baetje.
We also went to a museum lol, where they had an exhibition about the crazy 80s.
I also met up with some of my Tatung University students.
And I got to revisit NTU and meet up with some of my NTU peeps!!
And we did karaoke (which I had done before leaving HK as well)
Alas, all good things come to an end. Time to say goodbye to CJ and head home. Still in the liminal zone. At least I got *a whole row* on the plane for myself.
Goodbye CJ <3
Renaissance picture with my dad and my luggage
Whoopi longlingly awaiting my arrival
A citizen of Wuustwezel (Loenhoutttttt) once more. I’m sorry but we have the most beautiful town hall.
Oh yeah it became 2023 and I started work at KU Leuven, with Benedikt Szmrecsanyi (more on that in another update). Here is me on my first day, going from Leuven’s city hall to the Erasmushuis, which is where the Faculty of Arts is housed.
魯汶風雅，於斯爲盛。 “Literary pursuits at Leuven, may I flourish here.”
This calligraphy hangs right across from my office; it’s as if they knew I was coming here.
Starting the new project in Leuven required that I pay a visit to Matt Gardner in Oxford. So I did, and in passing visited some scenic views of Oxford, as well as the musical Wicked. A trip to Oxford, in this day and age, also requires compatible reading. I chose Babel, Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution by RF Kuang. It was a great book.
By the way, I saw a student use ChatGPT for writing a paper while on the train.
My road of good intentions led where such roads always lead, i.e., the musical Wicked.
Can we also talk about the bookstores of London, urgh.
Including the Atlantis bookshop <3
And Treadwells, where I trod well.
Finally, I also met up with Franzi and Antonio.
Imbolc came and February passed by as well.
I went for a fancy birthday dinner for my mom and we took my aunt as well. Looking good ladies!
And I was invited for another birthday dinner (Chiara, in yellow).
I can say that the feeling is much different from when I got to Hong Kong. If you recall (or if you want to reread), I felt quite uprooted in Hong Kong. While I eventually grew some roots there, the feeling here has been much different. I can’t figure out if it’s the familiarity of coming back home, back to an alma mater, back to a number of friends (although meeting up with some of them turns out to be more arduous than it should be :s :s ), or feeling relieved about the absence of a certain coworker. In any case, I’m back, transformed after 7 years abroad and ready to face the future.
Leaving liminality, but, you know what, I’m Leuven it.