The same word for two different times of day,
that borderland between day and night,
night and day.

the in-between light,
betwixt and betwither,
neither here nor there:

Before sunrise,
after sunset,
the blue hour.
The descending birds,
the dawn chorus.
The in-between time,
neither old nor young,
the middle distance.

The space, the gap,
the silence, the absence.

So the last time I went to Hong Kong, I sent an email to my friend Colette. I didn’t get a response, but I knew she was working at a restaurant, and so I thought I would just drop in, and surprise her at work.

But when I got there, they told me that she hadn’t been around in months: she was in the hospital, dying of cancer. They told me that she was no longer conscious, and that her family wanted privacy. So I thought there wasn’t even any point in going to see her. But then a few days later, I got an email, from the restaurant, that Colette had died.

So after that, I was walking around the streets of Hong Kong for the first time in years. And it seemed like the neon lights were brighter and more vivid than ever before. The streets were packed, as always: there was people going shopping, spilling out of restaurants, meeting up for drinks and karaoke. And everywhere I looked, I was sure I would see Colette, just coming ‘round the corner: big smile, warm hug. I had to stop, and remind myself that Colette would never be seen on these streets again.

We would go for drinks, and everywhere we went, people would welcome her with open arms. She could find a friend anywhere, but on those nights, she decided to hang out with me. She was an actress looking for work; I was an artist looking for a new direction. And we would talk about life... projects... the future. I was only there for a few short months, and after that, we hardly kept in touch. But I’ll never forget the kindness that she showed me back then.

It’s not like we were lovers or anything, we were just friends. But for me, Hong Kong at night has always meant having drinks with Colette. Back then, we had plenty of time. All the time in the world.

When you turn forty, you’re somewhere in the middle: not quite old, but not quite young, either.

When you turn forty, nothing seems very urgent anymore, except for the problem that everything lacks urgency.

When you turn forty, you wonder if you’re still relevant. But of course, you don’t care about “relevance” anymore, do you?

When you turn forty, it seems like a lot of your peers have stopped making art already. And you wonder if you’re next.

When you turn forty, finishing an art project is really easy. It’s starting one that’s really hard.

When you turn forty, you’re shocked at all the things you did in your twenties, and you wonder how you ever found the courage.

When you turn forty, you have to ask yourself what you’re gonna do for the next forty years.

When you turn forty, you get nostalgic for life before the internet.

When you turn forty, you start to worry about the next generation, who’ve never known life before the internet.

When you turn forty, you develop a strange interest in gardening.

When you turn forty, you start to notice how many of your friends have already died. And when you turn forty, you learn to appreciate the ones that are still around.