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Sunday Telegram: Travels with Mom

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SHE WAS HERE — BACK THEN

My mother and her family fled the communist takeover of China to Hong Kong in 1950. It was there that she grew up into a fashionable young woman with miniskirts and British-accented English. In pictures, she’s posing on the shores of Victoria Harbor. She moved to New York’s Chinatown in 1969, and never looked back. She got a job in the city, and then she became my mother. In college, and the years after, I went to Hong Kong in part to look for the young woman she was, in the place that shaped her into an adult. As I write this, I’m looking out at the Hong Kong skyline. I can see the cruise ships docked at the terminal across the water in Kowloon. So much of Hong Kong has been built up into skyscrapers as far as the eye can see — so much that my mother probably wouldn’t recognize the city she left so long ago. But I recognize a bit of that fabulous young lady in this place. And I smile, and feel a little closer to the person she was before she became my mother.