433: scenes from summer

I’ve been posting a lot of pictures lately because I’ve recently discovered that with WordPress, you don’t actually need to manually upload pictures, especially if you’re taking them from somewhere already on the net. i.e. you just need to copy and paste. Also, it’s less tiring than writing, which seems to drain me a lot these days. I wonder where all the capability to write introspective posts went. But it’s funny how writing style changes from year to year. Sometimes I look through my old posts (narcissistic I know, haha) and cringe at my horrible English — in between my emo posts there are pointless rants and ramblings of a teenage girl (so evident) complete with horrid misspellings and things like ‘okae@_____’ and ‘how gay’ and all manner of assorted sayings that were so prevalent back then. Nowadays my sentences are shorter but I am no less rambly. I still use a ton of commas (though not as much) but it seems I’ve now switched to dumping brackets every other sentence.

I’ve been thinking about loss these days. How sometimes I feel like I don’t want to confront the issues, which may be soon at hand. It’s not something I can help but it doesn’t make me feel anymore comfortable with the idea, nor is it something I welcome. More than anything it’s hard to say goodbye to someone who has been here all your life. It’s easy to say all these thoughts are premature, but what else can you do when you know the date draws nearer every day or year, even if you never know when it will be? They say your life can’t be put on hold while you wait. But it does, and it has to. If the guilt doesn’t come from within you, someone else will lay it on for you. Imagine having to deal with that on top of everything else.

I spent much of today looking through The Big Picture at the Boston Globe. I lingered over the old pictures of Russia, and I spent altogether too much time looking at war photos, all of them published for commemorative reasons. ‘Remembering D-Day, 66 Years On’. It should not have been that long ago. In some ways I’m grateful they are in black and white. It provides an emotional distance you don’t often get from colour pictures, in which there remains too much immediacy, like it just happened yesterday. In this day and age anybody can take a picture. In those days cameras were so rare, and every picture had a purpose, some meaning. A body lying dead on the ground. That famous napalm image. Mass graves, cannons, blood. A series of three photos shows the sudden death of a Viet Cong spy. One minute the gun is at his head, the next frame shows him slumped on the ground. In the days of film you never knew what you were going to end up with, till you got back home, away from the gunshots and the bombs. I spent most of today in slight depression because of this.

There are times when I feel such an overwhelming sense of loss in a different way. Just last night I think I was hallucinating. As I lay on the seat of the car and let my mind roll into all the places it should never have gone, I thought of cool nights and bicycles and racing home through the shortcut with no streetlights. When I woke up I was sad to find that I was not in front of my crappy door where the key doesn’t turn properly especially when you have frozen hands, that it was not a long street but my own front gate. I stumbled upstairs thinking about why I was still here. I’ve never missed my own home as much as I do my kitchen backyard room in Holland, and maybe only because it was a life I could call my own. Is it possible to be homesick for a place that isn’t even your home? They say life is never as good as it is elsewhere, but when I spent my year overseas, I missed nothing about Singapore. My mother says it is a good thing I didn’t go to UCL. I would never have come home. I should not be having these thoughts.

This is not to say I don’t like where I come from. But I feel sometimes as if my entire existence has been too safe. Yes you could push the envelope, but for educated middle-class families this usually means teaching English somewhere in a rural area of India or Cambodia or Thailand, which means (still) anywhere but here. How far can you go without leaving the country? It’s a petri dish. I can’t infect anybody; nobody infects me. I know that an entire generation has gone through hardship just so I can have this existence. Why would I run off seeking danger?

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432: winters in paris

Back then I was still nursing a broken heart, but my memories of this place are warm. More than any other, this trip was perhaps the most uplifting, seeing as how things were the way they were. Not that we did anything in particular — sightsee, yes; climb up Montmartre, have some crepes, trek across Paris (half the metro line). We spent lots of time hiding from the cold in warm cafes with hot chocolate and coffee. I was sad half the time, but I was also happy. Thank goodness for this city of love, this city of lights, this city of pain. When I think back on this time my heart always aches. I doubt there is any other city that embodies as many shattered dreams as this one.

427: the feelings never seem to let go

It’s been a strange night.

I had a couple of revelations tonight, including one about my old self. Or should I say, altogether too many, because the conversations I had tonight threw up many old things, strangely enough in light of all the old friends I’ve been meeting. It seems that when it rains, it really pours.

I sometimes think our old selves disappear under the radar for awhile only to resurface at the most random of times. (But that’s just the way time works. So this statement is redundant. But you knew that.) W. messaged me about his ex-girlfriend today asking for advice, and funnily enough I faced the same dilemma just days ago. We talked about it at length (and eventually came, as always, to the conclusion that neither of us would do anything about it) and we were surprised just how long ago all these happenings were. Were we only just teens? 13, 14, 15, teetering on the brink of possible self-extinction? The teenage years are trying, and even more so when we think we are in love. There were grandiose ideas, swirling about, and we were yet unhit by the mindblowing concept of survival after a broken heart. We thought ourselves perpetually on the brink of suicide. Dying for love seemed like such a good idea, and all the more so when our prescribed literature text was Romeo and Juliet.

(I wonder, on hindsight, whether the educators ever planned on such drastic emotional connections. Shakespearean tragedies, for all their lyricism, did little for the teenage constitution.)

We talked and laughed about it for a bit, thinking of all the times (all the first times, for as with every time, the latest time is always the first) we fell in love. He’d apparently forgotten I used to have a crush on him when we were kids. But I was mistaken; he did remember. With the advent of the Internet came an entire social network, much like things are now, only then it was the beginning, and we were at the beginning. We reminisced about stupid things, like how all the boys got excited over Maths Camp because it was the first time they’d ever see girls (single sex schools ….!).

We were twelve. How awesomely the GEP matchmaking system works. I mentioned I dated this guy for a few months when we were 14. We laughed, because all the questions one naturally asked were already answered. How on earth could we have known what we were doing? (We didn’t.) Did we really? (Yes.) Was it really? (Maybe not.) Yet it was telling, of how far teenage love permeated our past, that W. replied, “oh seriously, that’s as far back as S. and I,”.

S. was someone we both met on IRC; and slowly, through the unimaginably painful and socially awkward procedures of meeting another teenage person, we ascertained that she was a real person (she remains so on Facebook, now the ultimate arbiter of whether someone is worth seeing in person or not). Sparks ensued, as is prone to happen when one hormone-charged person meets another. He believed it was true love. For a while so did I. Then we pretended to be mature and ‘broke up’, because that was the Thing to Do. “I don’t want to hurt you,” became the tagline, as with “It’s not you, it’s me.” Endless reruns of HBO movies facilitated such utterances, as did the hours of Channel 8 TV serials. I fancied myself heartbroken. Then I moved on. I was 14. What on earth was I doing? It was a game then, and probably also now. In truth, everything always seems funnier on hindsight.

So it is strange now, to talk about all these exes as if they were real relationships. Some were, and others were not. This was one of the ‘not’s. I dithered on a reply to a request to meet up before finally deciding to hell with it. (The exact conversation with W. went: “My ex asked me to meet up one day; should I?” “You mean it ended that badly that you don’t want to see him anymore?” “Well no, not really … it was so long ago.” “How long ago?” “Sec 2.” “Chey.”) It had been really long.

All the same, I have no idea what on earth to talk about.

426: midnight cravings

This is probably nothing much at all, but I’d just like to say — after an entire day of meeting up with old friends, I spent the night editing my stupid assignment, before starting on my tutorial at midnight. It has 32 questions. It is 32 questions of Civil Procedure HELL. I felt like I was doing a comprehension exercise. Except it had 32 questions. After 3 hours, I was finally done. Then I went to look for tomorrow’s outfit, so I wouldn’t have to rack my brains in the morning. Halfway through I thought about shoes. My shoes. Which had suddenly and inexplicably gone missing, even though I hadn’t worn them the entire summer, and I spent an hour ransacking the entire house to look for it. I looked in my store room three times. I opened the front door and checked the shoe cabinet twice. I opened the front gate just to check that I didn’t throw my shoes in my car or my boot or the other car or the other boot. I checked all the damn shoeboxes. BUT NO SIGN OF SHOES.

In the end I found it, nestled in a shoe box underneath an entire bunch of plastic bags that my maid had put on top of it, all the way from the last time I sprained my ankle. In the store room.

Life sucks.