When one sweats in a mild environment you can feel the tingle, the accumulation of perspiration, before it overfills, spills and drips down. Those few drops build and pop up across your body. In Hong Kong during the summer, sweating is head to toe and feels like walking through the sprinklers of my suburban summer youth. Just imagine sprinklers set to warm and you get a clearer sense of the sensation. You sweat even if you will your body not to. It’s not unpleasant always, in fact there is something cleansing and accomplishing about your body being able to completely drench your clothes. The constant shift from the moist heat to the cool conditioning draws out the moisture in your body full force. It’s physical and visceral, reminding you, your body, and everyone’s sweaty backs, does things that you don’t want it to.
The environment of Hog Kong has other elements of extreme sensations. Drops of moisture, fabricated by the air con, drop on to your head and body.It causes you to prepare for rain when it’s only a drop. There are moments when I feel cold and hot at the same time a truly foreign and jarring sensation. When your sweat becomes a clammy blanket. Buses lurch past you engulfing you in heat from their exhaust.
Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places in the world but I never really touch others or feel claustrophobic. This has to be partly because I’m about the same height and build as most people. In other countries people’s mass made me feel vulnerable but here I feel more normal. When I watch masses of people transitioning I’m reminded of the collectivist studies describing movement in these places acting like school of fish.
Touch is important when you make a lonesome journey. You crave it because connection is so close yet so far when you are surrounded by people you don’t know yet. This week I had a moment of touch. I joined a rugby team, by accident and to meet people. We had a drill to wrestle for a ball, sweaty and exhausted we wrestled for an overgrown oblong shape our bodies slipped past one another making contact.
Touch turns to a feeling, alerting our emotions, fired from external stimuli. What I always search for is a feeling of comfort and acceptance. I’ve gotten an apartment in Hong Kong, I’ve chosen a place to live. It was a struggle, forcing me to be an adult with responsibilities, the decision a weight that I usually run away from. But once I signed the papers for my home for the next two years that weight lifted. After the first official day of work I needed to do something for myself. I wandered around my new neighborhood and felt so complete. Maybe it was because I knew this was my neighborhood, or maybe it was because I knew this was my home, but now I feel I own my decisions and with it my comfort. I feel more confident than I ever have in my life. I feel confident because I feel competent. Hong kong’s public transport, tiny size, and isolated costal development means I haven’t felt lost yet. I feel stressed, I feel bored, I feel happy, I feel confused, I feel frustrated, I feel proud, I feel curious, I feel like an adult.