The photographer Moises Saman spent the weekend documenting the protests in Hong Kong. He writes:
“My experience in Hong Kong could not have been more different than in Cairo, Tunis, Tripoli, and Hama. In the Arab world, state authorities did not think twice before using deadly force to quell the protests. … In Hong Kong, I observed astounding restraint by both the police and the protesters.”
All photographs by Moises Saman / Magnum
They say you can never go home again, but I think that’s only true if you expect it to feel exactly the way it did before, or for yourself to feel the same way in it. I couldn’t possibly have expected to have the same feeling in New York or Arizona as I’d had before living in Paris, just as I cannot expect my next year here to be the same after having returned to the U.S. But I’ve begun to realize that there are only two true homes we ever have in life: the entire world itself, and the body with which you traverse it. Everywhere in between is just the place you lay your head.
Around a decade ago, I spent a summer in Germany with my cousins. All in all I was there for around eight weeks. Both during and after the experience people asked me if I got homesick or if I missed my family. I always told people, “No,” fully aware of how odd it might sound to not miss one’s family. But I was with family: I got to hang out with two of my younger cousins, their demon of dachshund, my mom’s sister and my Canadian uncle. I have this theory that siblings are just different versions of the same person so being with my next of kin wasn’t so different from being with my immediate family.
But then college happened and things began to change: my kid sister was in high school, my older brother moved to California and even though my younger brother moved to the same city for school as me he might as well have been in another one based on how sparsely our lives intersected. My theory about siblings becomes important here. Ask anyone who knows us and they’ll tell you my brothers and I are sort of the same people for different reasons, be them personalities, faces, hair, other genetic traits, etc. But at the same time we couldn’t be more different from each other. I strongly cling to what makes me different from my brothers, but at the same time closely identify with the people they’ve become. I see myself in both of them. Paths I could have taken. And so as the years have gone by, we become more distinct from one another and they become less and less familiar. Time spent with them is time spent awkwardly getting to know them all over again while being relieved that some parts of us haven’t changed. Time apart makes me wonder who they’re becoming and reflect on who I’ve become. Meanwhile, our sister became an icon of individuality (in my mind) who navigated the death trap of high school with a grace that I can only marvel at. (Mostly) Free from the shadows of her three brothers, she has flowered into someone I know I don’t need to worry about but I always do because she’ll always be my little sister. Whenever I find myself making an “adult” decision, the wisdom and now glaring inability-to-intervene-on-my-behalf of my parents flood my thoughts. I have traded one burden for another, one that I’m not sure yet how to bear best. I find myself unloading the anxiety of having students (which must be like having actual children) on my mother, along with other odd challenges and the odd pleasure I get from them i.e. picking out curtains. Anytime I think of money and how I’m not good at managing it I make a mental note to ask my dad how to set up a monthly budget using spreadsheets. And every comment/reaction I make about a sports match/game has been informed by him.
I used to not miss my family but now I do. But they have inspired me to be where I am today, each in their own way. I know they wonder why I’m doing this but they should know that it is they who make me certain that I can do this.