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Back in the City



I finally went out for lunch with my friends. I’m so used to staying home, that I almost forgot to wear a mask. When the elevator reached my floor, I saw all these other people wearing masks, and it reminded me of what I had forgotten. In Hong Kong, everyone is basically wearing a mask, so not only is it the right thing to do, but I would also feel singled out if I didn’t wear one. I would be that one person everyone would be staying away from.

When I asked my mom for permission to go outside, she was quite wary of letting me go. My friends invited me out for sushi, and the idea of raw, uncooked fish was not very convincing for my mom. In the end, she let me go, but her doubt did make me extra nervous. When I got there, I found that the restaurant had made preparations to comply with the one-meter rule. They placed large plastic dividers between seats, and they even provided us with envelopes to put our masks in. The sushi restaurant also stopped serving their dishes through the conveyor belt.

Our temperature was taken right before we entered the restaurant, and the server placed plastic covers over our drinks. The wasabi jar was no longer placed next to the soy sauce, and instead, the restaurant served wasabi on the side of each of our dishes. I assumed it was because they didn’t want all their customers touching the same jar— it would be too easy for the virus to spread.

It had been a long time since I ate sushi, or had any outside meal, so it was very satisfying. I talked a lot with my friends about their summer plans, and some of them said that they were disappointed that they could not fly back to their home countries. Since most of us are international students, our grandparents, cousins, and friends are all overseas. One of my friends said that it would be weird celebrating July 4th in Hong Kong, instead of in the U.S. For me, summer has always been time to visit my grandparents. I always stay at my grandparents’ house in Seoul, and meet the rest of my relatives. Even though there is still Facetime or Zoom, I find it very different to actual human interaction. Hopefully, I can see them over winter break.

Even though Hong Kong has very few new active cases, and many of them imported, I am very proud to see how serious everyone is taking the situation. People are using tissues to open doors, and religiously using hand sanitizer after touching any surface. Our “normal” has changed, but hopefully, we can be less than a meter apart soon.

—Mira



Written by: Naomi Katayama

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