So, we went to Singapore.
Wonderful and exhausting in all kinds of ways.
I will say that it gets easier with time. Returning to one's home country and acting like a tourist, I mean. I used to be all introspective about cultural conflict and the many different roles I play in the worlds in which I now live, and how time steamrolls on when my back is turned. For instance: all those new malls! All the new ministers in Parliament! Our President (well, that happened last year, but still)! The most recent crazy educational policy! The rerouted buses and MRT (that's our subway) lines! And - worst of all - my favorite hawker food vendors who'd retired since our last visit (without consulting me! Most inconsiderate).
Now that I've done this consistently over the past five years, it feels more like I'm merely popping in to visit the folks and catch up with old friends. Never mind that the "popping in" involves exorbitantly-priced travel over too many hours through bizarre time zones. Does my heart still break when I leave to come home (different kind of home) to Minnesota? Do I still feel neurotic about my mouth instinctively speaking several varieties of English? Am I secretly relieved to see my own laundry room and kitchen, even if they symbolize a return to the Repetitive Chores Of Death from which I was only too happy to hop on a plane to escape, just a fortnight earlier?
Funny. I always feel like I need a vacation after returning from a trip to Singapore. I never feel like that after any other holiday away from home (the "Repetitive Chores of Death" home, I mean). If I were to give words to what a trip to Singapore means, I'd have to say, "something only someone else with feet in two home worlds will understand". Lots to process. Being comfortable (or at least used to) living with parallel juxtaposed experiences. Surreptitiously and increasingly choosing the foreign but relevant over the familiar but distant. Redefining "foreign" and "familiar". Experiencing different meanings of contentment and fullness. Simultaneously embracing and mourning those choices, experiences and redefinitions. Feeling like I'm missing out on important stuff happening with precious people whose lives go on without me in them. Rejoicing in the knowledge that they, too, have redefined contentment.
And knowing that, one day, my children will experience these same things when they are old enough to feel them. And, inexplicably, feeling both deeply sad and richly blessed that they will.
The world, after all, is a smaller (and much more exciting) place than we think.
But I am here now, in my own house.
And my to-do list of creative projects is growing even as I write this.
That's another thing that I found funny about being in two worlds - I have to-do lists in both! And this is how I tell which country is home: the one whose to-do list is more ridiculous, more overachieving and more likely to be procrastinated upon. Hahahaha!
So yes, some interesting projects coming up.
But before that, shall we linger somewhere beautiful for a little while more?
This is Singapore -
|East Coast Beach, shore|
|East Coast Beach, water|
|Gardens by the Bay, by day|
|Gardens by the Bay, at twilight|
|The Botanic Gardens|
- and some of its flora
and some of its food
|Fish and chips|
|Drinking coconut juice|
|Roti Tisu (paper-thin paratha, with butter and sugar)|
|Indian curries on Racecourse Road|
and some of its architecture -
that we took in on our walks around town,
although we spent most of our of time beside bodies of water,
especially this pool, where I did (slow and laborious) laps as a teenager.
Then there was the best part of all - the Hanging-Out-Withs:
|Mum and Dad!|
|Jenna feeding the giraffes at the Zoo ("They eat potatoes and carrots, Mum!")|
|Riding the crazy family bike along the beach.|
|Meeting my new first cousin, twice removed, for the first time (I gave him bibs. Of course.).|
|Kate's surprise birthday party.|
|Catching up with Jen and her daughter.|
|Discussing education, motherhood, sleeve cap ease, curved darts, and other life issues.|
|Saying goodbye at the bus interchange, like we did when we were in elementary school.|
And then there's the shopping.
But we'll need an entire post just for that,
so we'll leave that for another day.
See you back soon!