I mean the grown-up girlfriends, not the kids.
Fun day out with two friends today. Both I've known since we were little ourselves. You guys know them! The first is Eunice, she-who-used-to-love-cows-and-now-shares-her-heart-with-also-hedgehogs-and-owls. I make her crazy birthday gifts like these and this and this. We went shopping at Daiso -where I bought stuff like a pill cutter (it removes the pilly fuzzy bits from fabric surfaces; it doesn't cut medicine tablets in half) and had dim sum at a fabulous Cantonese restaurant. The noodles! The porridge! Oh, how I've missed real Chinese food. And the good company. So much fun to catch up.
Then we said goodbye (till next year) and I zoomed off on the train to meet Jen. Sans kids! We're older now, but we're still meeting in malls like we did back when we were - what - 11? 13? Except now we both had to fly/drive in from our new respective countries to do it. We went sewing shopping, naturally. Not to browse - we both had specific things to buy, and specific stores at which to get them. We went to Spotlight and I gawked at how velcro costs S$10 (about US$7) a yard when it's 99c in JoAnn. Then we went to the haberdashery wholesale stores in Textile Centre, where velcro costs S$2 a yard and comes in every color of the rainbow, and then some, including raspberry and peacock. Stocked up on sewing machine needles, invisible zippers, polka-dot bias tape, tailor's chalk and trims, but no fabric. Hurrah! Very good self-control, no? And Jen and I got to talk about interfacing and interlining and industrial machines and commercial patterns and children and life and it wasn't enough but it would have to do till we meet again.
And then it was home to the family and the kids were pleased to have me back. "Mummy likes me!" said Kate, and kissed my arm. And all three children fought to hold both my hands. Silly, precious girls.
I have no photos because I didn't bring the camera with me. But I wanted to write this post anyway also to say how odd it is being back in my home country when it isn't my home country anymore. Those of you with feet in two (or more) cultures separated by geographical boundaries will probably relate. It is effortless to slip back into my Singaporean identity and spew words in the colloquial tongue, plus various Chinese dialects, and it is also effortless to slip back into my minivan back in the US, and begin to roll my "r"s in the American way, and cook meatloaf. I am both Singaporean and American now. But it is also simultaneously bizarre to stand on the train on the way to meet friends, as I did this morning, and have this thought suddenly hit you: "I personally know thousands of people in this country - family, ex-students, friends, colleagues - and my toiletries are in a ziploc bag, while in the land where my shower foam sits permanently on the shelf of my bathroom, I know fewer than 50." Not a sad thought at all, just weird.
And here's another one: I can recall two kinds of phone numbers - yes, just from memory - the 8-digit Singapore ones and the 10-digit US ones, prefixed with the 952 or 612 area code. Both are completely natural to me, because my brain is compartmentalized into two distinct modes with parallel familiar experiences and that same brain is on hyperdrive, comparing and contrasting every single thing through the filters of culture. My two worlds have very little in common- especially if one looks beyond the common language- with the exception of sewing. I sew in both cultures, and apart from the voltage needed to run the respective sewing machines, all my equipment and tools are the same, down to the brand and shape of the bobbins. I've often suspected there was more to sewing for me than it being a creative outlet. Clearly I don't do it for sanity, the way some of you do. I am never sane when I sew - you all know that! But it reminds me of home here when I sew in Minnesota, and it reminds me of home in the US when I go shopping for haberdashery here in Singapore. I think it's weirdly wonderful, but isn't it also just absolutely schizophrenic?