I leave for the airport in a half hour or so, and the reality of it has not yet struck me down in my tracks. I am going back to Singapore! I haven't been back in three and a half years, and things, I know, will be remarkably different. I will have no family in the area; I'll be living on my own and making my way in the world without help. I'll have to unpack and settle in, create a place for myself, attend to friends, work, and invest in a new community. It feels rather odd to go back to a place that is at once familiar and different.
Celebrating National Day with the family
I have, after all, spent a great deal of my life in Singapore. I took my first steps and spoke my first words there; I celebrated National Day and Chinese New Year and the Lantern festival with our Singaporean friends. I feel slightly apprehensive about some things--my friends Sidney, who was twelve when I left is now sixteen--sixteen! of all things--and I wonder if we'll get along as splendidly as before. (I think we will, but I am the eternal optimist.)
In high school, I had to read a weepy story by an expat girl named Erika, about how she returned to Singapore, her childhood home, only to be disappointed with the strangeness of the familiar culture. She was unemployed and could not afford the maid or manner of living she was accustomed to as a child, and despite tossing and turning, she could not figure out why things were so different. I am happy to report that my family was never rich, which has left me with no illusions of grandeur, and I do not intend to cling to a static idea of childhood. I realize things will be different, and that's all right. They will be better.
Enjoying the surf at East Coast Park