481: think

And… never mind. I’ve decided I don’t really want to know. It’s strange to be caught in this limbo of half-knowledge and half-wants. The world would be a better place if I stored up all my knowledge and kept it in a jar somewhere, and if I curbed this endless desire, this endless curiosity, this endless need to know more and furnish my imagination with the confirmation that only real life knowledge can give.

I want to know things so I don’t imagine them. My mind is too capable of making up stories and worlds that don’t exist. Imagination leads us down rabbit holes from which we will never surface.

 

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479: There is no guarantee of shore.

I turned 29.

These days life is different on the other side. The lights are still bright, and the air still yellow with smog. We are subject to the weather as we always are. But the buildings huddle against each other like old men, and through the windows the dreams of thousands leak, like sunlight through the fog. The taxis wind their complicated chains through the city, their meters jumping through each traffic light like hoops, while the roads behind us close up like zips. The clouds are heavy and come from far away. The rain always promises to come, so we put some strange irrational faith in the weather forecasts, counting the days, but all that floats by is dark shadows and the water never comes.

The city is an ocean. Everyone merely beats the waves, against work, against time, against distance, against love. The boats toss. Our hearts follow and rush up and down with the sea.

Once in a while your heart diminishes and returns to reason. The hard drumming dies down to a calm tattoo, the fog clears, and you feel like turning away for a moment or two. Maybe there are other boats, other rivers, other seas. Other lands. Other shores. Sometimes you feel as if you could and as if you couldn’t, and sometimes even turning away leaves us with few places to go. We must find a boat and sail in it. There is no guarantee of shore. The sea remains. Would we burrow inward, through the city and its endless skyscrapers? But the streets are like jail corridors and there are no pots of gold, only more buildings, more rooms, more problems, more rivers to cross, at the end of the rainbow. Should we get out of here, and out of this city? Where would we go? How would we get there? Who knows? Now it must begin, that slow process. The tap must shut itself off, or someone might drown. Meanwhile we wait for the rain to come again. But like everything out of reach, it only comes when it wants to, not just because your senseless heart calls out for it. But the heart wants only what the heart wants.

478: Remember 2015

I didn’t write one for the previous year; I’m not sure why. It might have been because I was too caught up in the whirlwind of the beginning of the year, having convinced myself that I was too happy and had so many other, better, things to do; unknowingly, the first week of the year slipped by and writing about the year that just passed seemed less and less relevant.

Strange because so much has happened in these two years. So much has changed. I began the first day of 2015 uncharacteristically not hungover from the festivities the night before (although what I actually did, I can’t for the life of me remember anymore), waking up at the ungodly time of 6am to rush to my cousin’s house to prepare for his wedding, and then the hubbub of the whole affair died down to just a few family members, dozing by the armchairs of the outdoor bar in Capella, talking about our lives over drinks and tea. It was a sunny day; the weather was great.

Chinese New Year came. The predictions for the year promised great things. I spent the months mostly being optimistic and bored, a fact made more glaringly obvious by the fact that I can’t remember what I did at work (besides drink) nor outside work (besides drink). Life was peaceful and painless, and uncharacteristically quiet. I was alone for the first time in ages suddenly, and strangely enough I didn’t know what to do with myself. And then: I turned 28. There were too many questions. What should I be doing with my life? What am I doing with my life? Do I really want to be here? Is life too easy? Am I going mad? I read more books in the first 6 months of 2015 than I have in the past five years, which just shows what life in practice does to you. I’m not really sure why I jumped back in again — but I did, and now I’m back to stealing moments from work to read a book whenever I can. I talked about it to everybody and anybody who would listen, trying to find someone who could explain to me why I felt this strange disquiet in my head. But I savoured the fact that I had a Blackberry but never needed to check it, ever; I read my emails at the end of the week and nobody would say anything. I abandoned my Blackberry and the thought of endless blinking red lights and the multitude of horrors that it implied, not so secretly laughed at those who were still chained to their jobs, and went out to explore the world, as I imagined I should have, many years earlier.

So, I travelled. Burma; the first South East Asian country I’d visited (other than Thailand) ever. It was beautiful, but I’m not sure I’d go back so soon. Watched the sun rise 300 feet off the ground, us hanging in the air like lanterns. Lazy days by the pool because it was too hot to do anything else, drinking cocktails in the water and reading Burmese Days, just because we could. Watched the city crumble around us and rise again from the ashes of a long, drawn out past. Thought for a moment that I was back where Singapore might have been, 50 years ago. Revisited Tokyo for the first time in 5 years, fell in love with it all over again. Ate too much. Drank up a storm. Did stupid things like go to a club with all our shopping and two huge shoeboxes. Saw the cherry blossoms rise and fall, got cheap thrills out of the cold wind and the sakura-related everything that they were selling, had numerous conversations about what we wanted to do with our lives, our loves, and more. Fell down the stairs the day after I came back, cut my foot, remained invalid for a week. Nearly didn’t make it to Bali, but somehow I did, with my crazy bandaged foot and industrial-strength injury tape and a shit load of painkillers, more lazy days around the villa, gingerly testing if my foot would explode with bacteria if I waded into the pool, reliving nights at Bounty just because we could, and having strange and wonderful walks back home to our villa with drunken friends and drunken conversations. Life seemed wonderful.

But wonderful is as wonderful does and life does what it likes. Somewhere along the way we lost ourselves and for me at least, it took a long time to find myself again. It’s still taking a long time. Maybe as we get older the time seems shorter, only because there’s not that much for you to find. What can you know that you don’t already know? Are there still parts of yourself to discover?

“Just because we could” seemed to be a recurring trend, for some reason. But that’s just it, isn’t it? Suddenly I realised I was no longer 21 and I was not standing on the cusp of my fullest potential. This was either my peak or the best was yet to be, but either way I was no longer at the beginning. I could no longer tell myself that there were this many second chances, that life was always going to be awesome and filled with endless joys and surprises (not that I’ve really ever done this), but when you’re 28 the only way to go seems to be forward. And so you do things, just because you can and there is no other way. We’ve come too far now; we’re too old. Either we try this, or we never do. And if not now, when?

And then where else? There was a point halfway through the year where I asked myself too many questions. The world changed. If it was at all possible to believe, I grew older (again). And then what was there left for me? I wanted to check myself into an island and never appear again. The days passed, and somehow I couldn’t. When I finally did run away it was the opportunity of a lifetime. And so started the camping, the rain, the fireworks, the dancing, the friends… It was tiring, it was amazing. It’s still tiring as hell, but I don’t think any amount of writing really adequately conveys the highs and lows of this year, and even just thinking about it makes me feel drained. And…

Now I’m here. It’s too far and not far enough from home. Here is a new life I never thought possible, and yet sometimes it seems as if I never left. This is a new city, but all around there are old connections. For all that it’s worth and all that I left behind, it was something I never expected to really do. But now I did it, and I’m finding pride in things that I never really expected to. The work is hard and shitty and I’m chained to my job just like I used to be, there are even more late nights and documents and possibilities of going blind, but part of me now knows that some day all this will pass, and I have options, choices, life decisions, alternatives, to be here or there or nowhere, just so long as it’s somewhere my heart is.

I don’t know where it is now. This year turned out like nothing I expected. It’s raining outside the window of my apartment where I now live alone and the only thing I come home to is the sound of myself. I think in time my heart could be here, but every other week I get the urge to fly home and stay forever. Strange because once again I feel like I’m standing on the verge of something. I wonder if this time it’ll take me three years to realise I should have just done it right at the beginning. I don’t know. I don’t know a lot of things anymore. And I’m still bumbling through life dreading all the hellos and the goodbyes. But I’m here. Just because I can be. And some day I’ll go home. Just because I can.

There won’t be many opportunities to feel this way again, I reckon. Some days I wake up and the air is swirling with uncertainty, and I think to myself that none of this is worth the battle that goes on in my head every morning. Some days I feel as clueless as a twelve year old kid, lying in bed thinking about her first crush. Some days all these words get stuck in my head and they can’t come out. Some days my heart’s a mess. I didn’t think it would still be a mess at 28, but here we are. Here we are in a city of skyscrapers and heartbreakers. But we’ll make it work. We’ve got to make it work somehow.

We’ll see what happens this year, but who knows. Some days I wish there was someone who could tell me where to go and how to get there. But in the meantime I take long drives in my head to nowhere, and hope I don’t get lost along the way. How is it possible to still be scared at this age? But it’s possible, if only because there’s so much less time left and so much more to lose. We’ll see if we find the correct question to the answer this year. How much longer do we have anyway?

The answer bloody well isn’t 42. It’s yes.

 

 

476: Crossing the Rubicon

I see: endless faces. I find: quite easily, those who try to lose themselves. They come in as the music plays on in the back, their footsteps agitated, purposeful. There is a heavy thump of anger as they call for a beer. It’s happy hour, I say to the uneducated. Most people fall for it, since the mode of transport to hell is irrelevant. Everyone is coasting, in any case; I just provide the oars.

I’m not here every day but these two appear more often than they should. They sit by the bar and as I serve their drinks they leave ajar the window to their private lives. The conversations are never grey or static, and sometimes there is another or two or four people. They laugh quietly, then loudly, then there might be an awkward silence, a pensive mood, when the conversation gets too heavy and too private and someone wants to run away but knows they shouldn’t, not just yet. Two or three agonising seconds later they request more drinks and I save the day. Somewhere else, somehow, a boat struggles to stay afloat. The days fade to the sound of some invisible countdown. They sit closer to each other. There are more words, and too many ways to say the same thing. The air hangs down, heavy as lanterns, and maybe their feelings blur as the music swirls with possibility. Once in a while it’s too much, and they dart outside to recharge. Inside between the drinks, over where I stand, is a river neither of them dares to cross. But they lean towards it, swaying against each other, waiting for the truth to drown them both. Each time they leave the universe readjusts. The rest of them mill around, soulless as flies, and the dances continue amidst the alcohol. I make the rest of the drinks as I am commanded to.

One day, she stops coming. The boat does not sink. The river flows. The universe remains undisturbed. He continues as he always has.

468

I turned 27. The days pass.

So I’ve been reading horoscopes recently, and more than ever before. What they tell me is nothing new in the grand scheme of things, but possibly mind-blowing only because it’s been a long time since I’ve heard it. Something new is coming your way, there will be eclipses this month, planets crash and stars misalign and you are caught somewhere in between, be careful. Be careful because things, new things, may drop in unannounced and knock you off-balance, somewhere between fear and uncertainty. You may have to rethink many existing foundations. How is it that one day life is orderly and you are content, a little cynical perhaps but on the whole just so, and then suddenly you find that the solid floor is a trap door and you are now in another place where the geography is uncertain and the customs are strange?

There have been many articles about the woes of our generation lately, and mostly how technology has transformed our social lives and interactions. Particularly that Rolling Stone article. I told someone recently I didn’t (never did? Now don’t?) believe in true love. S asked, but what is true love? To which I replied, well your question just answered your question, no? And isn’t that the eternal question?

I remembered that answer, and the only question you’d ever want an answer to. The answer bloody well isn’t 42, it’s yes.

467: How much remains the same is the scariest question

Is it really true? I think it is, though I’ve never truly known what it’s like to grow up in a generation unmarked by technology. That as young people nowadays, we are generally shitty conversationalists, having been prone to over-analysing, over-thinking, writing and rewriting endlessly those text messages that flow from our phones. Or our computers, back when it was the medium of choice.

So, that I remember. I was eleven when the Internet really took off. Suddenly the school sent round flyers urging parents to give their kids the gift of Internet; all the better to do their projects with, all these newfangled individualised research projects (God, too many of those…). I got my first e-mail account. I listened to that familiar tone, the same one I heard as a young child over the fax machine with its replaceable reams and rolls of smooth paper, I listened as it became the first recognisable ring tone of the decade, complete with the grey box window that would pop up whenever you tried to dial up. How, as a child and an irritating sibling, one would deliberately pick up the phone during critical moments in order to disrupt the connection. It was exhilarating. Thrilling. The promise of something new over the horizon, all this new and wonderful information, all these sources of information, and a whole new world. My cousin, 6 years older and infinitely wiser at 17 to my 11, introduced ICQ to me at a family gathering. I remember his number — it was 6 digits. I remember mine too, the way I don’t even remember anybody’s telephone number these days. I caught on to a whole new way of speaking. I was eleven. I talked to my friends but also random strangers who asked me how old I was. I always added two years to my age. I got sent porn videos. It’s also kind of disturbing now that I think about it, but back then the world was so big and I had so many things to learn. Back then there were no pop-up blockers, parent-child filters, and the web was a cowboy town and a lawless place. In a way, the Internet forced me to grow up faster than I ever would. That familiar sound (“eh-oh!”) — I still smile when I hear it, and it has become a sign of solidarity, for those who still remember and still recognise. As with “rehi”, the use of the slash to denote an action (“/slaps around with a big trout”), to make someone an op, and back when the hash sign was only used for channel names. A different generation. 

I was from an all girls’ school. Everything was unknown, including boys. Yet somehow they figured in our lives prominently, not least because the Internet helped to speed things along. I remember being in one of those enrichment classes when I was twelve, on a Saturday. There was a boy I thought was cute, in a bright blue t-shirt. We had been in the same programme for years (I had also been eyeing him for years). The programme ended; we turned thirteen. I forgot about him till I went for one of those stupid GEP camps, and there he was, amazingly. I have an excellent memory. I generally consider that a shortcoming. I think I used the age-old line (“Hi, you probably don’t remember me, but …”) — he responded. I think we had e-mails; we exchanged them. I don’t exactly recall what happened then, but we found each other on Napster, back when it still existed, back in its hey day. He sent me music. We talked. I told him I only listened to Class 95 and Jacky Cheung. He sent me more music. (I think we see where this is going.) Then MSN Messenger came on, in a big way. I added friends. He introduced his. I started chatting with more and more people I had never seen, back in the days when there were no digital cameras, no data messages, no way to identify anybody at all other than from the way they spoke online. So much overthinking. The way the change in your username, your font, your font colour, your font size, whether you used alternate caps or a full stop at the end of your sentences, meant everything and nothing at the same time. How you would agonise over whether to initiate the conversation given that there was no such thing as “last seen” and you would never know if he was just busy or did not want to reply, and nobody at 14 could handle that kind of mental trauma. There were times when it made me happy just to see someone log on, even if there was no conversation. This continued all the way up till I left school and stopped using MSN Messenger. A good ten years. There were also handphones. Snake, Snake II, and then Space Invaders, on that indestructible Nokia phone that everybody had. The way your parents knew you were dating someone because your monthly message count went through the roof. How you would avoid the phone ringing in the middle of the night by calling his mobile phone, then he would use his house phone to call your mobile phone, and then finally you would drop off and connect the land lines. Nobody needs that anymore. The art of sneaking thus has disappeared, simply because there is no more need for it. All around Singapore there were shy school going teenagers who arranged to meet at the crossroads of secondary schools — Popular, Junction 8, Orchard MRT, Starbucks — kids who had no idea how these strangers looked like, bringing along an entire army of friends for moral support, heart racing nonetheless. It occurred to me recently that this was more than ten years ago, and more than ten years later people are still doing the same thing. (The other day someone asked me, hey, have you ever met anyone from these dating apps? I replied no. Because I have no interest and no need. But you see.) Blogs came. We over-analysed further. There were all these words I didn’t know what to do with, words that are still floating around on the Internet somewhere, I think. Throughout all this my heart raced and my heart broke. More than ten years later I’m still talking about it. Now I still pick apart my emails. All my sentences are a test.

What’s so different? Nothing much. I’ve been having strange and meaningful conversations with strangers lately. It reminds me of the times when I was younger and I believed that these things would lead me somewhere. There have been requests to call. I refused, not only because it is not necessary, but also because speaking on the phone is a full-time endeavour, and I can’t write, rewrite, analyse. Think. I greatly prefer to write. Now you can’t meet someone for coffee and also bring an entire gang of friends along and like most people, I am a better conversationalist on paper. It occurred to me that the last time I had to deal with this sort of situation was more than ten years ago, and I’ve forgotten how to gently tell someone that I don’t want to meet them without sounding impolite. Or maybe society is just less forgiving towards 26- rather than 14-year olds. Who am I kidding, it totally is.

Just ten minutes ago I went searching for a quote in my archives that I wanted to re-use. I came across a list I made when I was 17, of books I had wanted to read. It now occurs to me I have read none of them still. How much we forget without knowing, only to remember at the strangest times.

466: Remember 2013

So, this post is later than all the rest of the years combined, probably. It’s not even January anymore, and I’ve just celebrated two New Years. I think I meant to say that I would have done this earlier, but given all that has happened in the past month, I suspect the tone for 2014 might have been entirely different had I written this towards the end of December instead. 

Strangely enough, I feel like I’ve spent the past month trying to think about how I should be writing this post. I usually rely on the previous year’s post to remind me of how the year started, but I guess I’ve told the story of what happened in Bangkok fairly often this time round, and that 2014 began in much the same way. 

But, in any case. The beginning — non-stop partying. Six people crammed into a tuk tuk to Chatuchak. Coconut ice cream. Many stories to tell, and much food was over-ordered. 100 sticks of satay. A drunken note scrawled and left by the room service trolley (“I know it’s dark, but — don’t trip”) which maybe should become the motto for the rest of our lives. The sunrises. Eternal hope. Coming back exhausted and yet not. Knowing that “exhausted and yet not” would continue to define the rest of the year, with months and months filled with files and mark-ups and emails. But funny how chance meetings turn out to be fortuitous, and as we stood by the roadside outside a club buried in the middle of a carpark in Thonglor, and I took a bite out of a random stranger’s chicken wing (who had spent a good part of the night hitting on R), we had no idea that we would shortly be seeing him again and again every other Friday (and sometimes every Friday). And so it’s been, this process of constantly meeting new people, at work, in bars, at clubs, an ever-expanding circle of friends, realising that everybody somehow knows everybody else, and that the world is very small indeed. But across the years since graduation (has it really been that long?) it is sometimes disconcerting to find that the ones you thought you might have been close to forever are not so close to you anymore now. Once in a while I think about it and it makes me feel slightly melancholy, and maybe you win some and you lose some, but sometimes the loss is so gradual, so unnoticeable that it takes a while before you realise that a deep connection might have been lost to any number of other demands on everybody’s time. Of which there are a lot. 

Which is not to say that it is a bad thing. Despite all the general angst about my job (although I’m not sure if this is just hindsight talking), I was not profoundly unhappy. In 2012 many people left and then I got thrown into the deep end a lot. And there were many days and nights in front of the computer at my desk slaving away at 3am for deals that I might have been running alone, to shitting out advice I never knew I had in me, the crazy whirl of being abandoned for 3 weeks and running into the conference room for a meeting at 4am in the morning (and what the hell? Seriously). Me getting lectured on contract law with partners with my measly C+ in first year but negotiating derivatives and securities. All this and more, but tellingly, despite everything and the crazy hours and my increasingly insane ability to appear to function on less and less hours of sleep each day, I did not feel like I fucked up. And maybe it’s one thing to realise that while there is always the urge to 远走高飞 to a better place, there is still some kind of fulfillment I can find in my job, if only just to prove to myself that I am capable of doing so. The eternal passive optimist in me probably still believes that there cannot always be just a downside to everything, even if the upsides are often (maybe always) harder to find. 

But still, a better place. Still looking, still roaming, and each year maybe I still want to roam more. What’s to stop you now from doing anything that you can do (especially if you’ve been taught, since young, that you can do anything? I blame my schools for this one)? As I grow older (and older) there are increasingly sensitive questions being asked, and there are a million reasons not to give the correct answer. It could be that these are childhood dreams that I have never really let go of, especially the innate desire to be carefree, or just to think about as little as possible. Last year I wrote that the oncoming years would be spent trying to recapture lost youth — I don’t think that anymore, not really, because I think I was mistaken. I realise the issue is not that I am growing older, because in the grand scheme of things I am, still, pretty goddamn young. This year during my birthday A handed me a can of Red Bull. I can’t give you youth, he said, but I can give you boundless energy. It was strangely touching and witty and also sad, all at the same time. But those words have stayed with me since, and so what this really is is a war against fatigue, which has nothing to do with whether I am young or not. Which maybe explains the continued need for catharsis every Friday through some form of total abandonment (always drunken) despite always, always, always being endlessly tired, why the first drink is always a Jager Bomb so that I can dance the rest of the night away and still wake up in the morning in time to go for brunch or yoga. I do it because I still can, I still want to, and I’m still young. There are still a million things I want to do. Study. Work overseas. Write a goddamn play. Vegetate. I realise I am still (always) trying to explain why it is that I need to do what I do, endlessly justifying, if only to convince myself that there must be some higher power at work, that I am shaped by events and circumstances, that maybe I can’t help it and that all this is outside my control. Or maybe it isn’t and I’m just lying to myself for the heck of it. 

I must have taken a million holidays this year. Bangkok, then Hong Kong, then Switzerland, Italy, Bali, Sydney, KL. Blown an exorbitant amount of money on bags and dresses and other frivolous and unnecessary things. Managed to sleep an epic-ly low number of hours where I went to bed at 4 or 5 or 7am and rolled like a comatose ball into work the next day. Waking up, going back to sleep, waking up, passing out, getting more sleepy, more tired, more awake at night. Eat sleep rave repeat. If I admit it to myself, this year was lived in an entirely selfish manner, and probably on all counts. 

But in between there was all this: new friends, better friends, good friends, fireworks, confetti at sunrise, the pulsing beat of the music with 20,000 other people, maybe some sense of connection, fending off creepy French men, coffee runs at 4pm, punch bowls, smearing lipstick on everybody for the birthday boy kiss, moving office and saying goodbye to cheap food and lunch dates. The world is filled with mad men and we are madder than most. Quiet walks, deep conversations, conversations I don’t remember having, doing things I remember and then doing things I don’t remember doing, drunken movie marathons, discovering new places to hang out, juggling the demands of a relationship during the weekends against my endless unfulfilled desire to have fun. There were arguments, but not that many. Mostly it has been happy and things are easily resolved by logic. I don’t know if this is the lawyering at work here. But it seems to be working, finally (finally), after cycling through naive hopes and starry eyes and heartbreak (not just mine), through the numerous road trips and journeys, forward to the next venture beneath the skies. A lot of beer and laughter. There was little sadness. My life is less volatile than it used to be, or maybe there is just less time to be dramatic about things. The losses were few. I found some time to stare at mountains and soak in the snow. Hung out on the steps outside our holiday apartment, bottles of wine in hand, the smoke drifting up, on the summer nights. Over-ordered as always. Struggled with my weight. Decided to exercise and then not exercise and then exercise and then just to fuck it only to attempt to take control of my life again. I sat on my broken computer for a year. Realised my music collection had not grown exponentially, as it used to, as it should have, because I still miss those songs and all the things they reminded me of. But always, always the conversations, which were alternately frivolous and not, alternately life-changing and not, conversations I’m not proud of, conversations that I struggle to remember. 

I guess unlike the year before there’s no point in wishing that the losses will be fewer, so that part of the Winterson quote won’t get whipped out this time. In the first month of 2014 I have lost more things than I ever have in the past few years. Oh no, G said, I’m sorry. Hope they weren’t irreplaceable, he said, at which point I replied that past a certain point I suppose everything must be replaceable. (A bit tragic, how blase we feel nowadays, about our illusions of the world shattering.) Which they were. Replaceable, I mean. More easily than I thought it would be. It’s always been fairly easy to make myself let go, or otherwise I never would have made it this far without being fucked up. It is a skill I find hard to tell other people about, especially those close to me, who are close to me but don’t really understand, because they have never asked the same questions nor tried to find the answers themselves. And sometimes it is difficult to admit to yourself that there maybe is no real answer. And so what this is, as well, is learning to make the best of the cards that one has been dealt with. You win, you lose, I guess, and still you play. Is anyone else getting tired of me re-using the same quotes yet?

As the year begins I always feel like I am standing on the edge of something big. But this year the edge is closer than ever before, and the something is so big that I am alternately scared and excited and terrified the fuck out of my mind. (That’s 2 against 1, and fear still wins.) But we’ll see. It could be that I go places, it could be that I go nowhere, or maybe, like they say, true voyage is return. But even though I cycle through uncertainty and trepidation and wander fearful and lonely as a cloud, there is at least some hope that there will be journeys to take which are worth taking. 

So. To being young, forever young, and forever on the road. 

464: Undesirable Familiarity

First thing I thought when I walked in — oh no, here we go again. Might have been the smell or those endless rows of beds, but more chilling were the corridors that led everywhere except anywhere you wanted to go. Which, usually, was out. I can’t shake it off, as I told my cousin earlier this evening, that feeling that you’re only ever in there for a reason and of course the reason is a bad one. Nobody ever says “see you again,” in these situations, and over time one gets to know the in-house food options a bit too well. People start making slightly off observations like “Wow, this ICU is much nicer than the last one I was in,” and one must grin and bear it with characteristic good (black) humour or risk going insane. Or breaking down. Or both. Because it speaks of an undesirable familiarity, kind of like how you know what your ex does with his underwear at a certain time.

And, after a few days, here we do go again. As I was telling (yet) another cousin, it doesn’t feel too long ago that I was doing this. Being the one standing there and smiling and packing up the chairs at 11pm. But strangely enough I’ve forgotten how to do most of it, like the process is still new and strange and uncomfortable. When I went in I stood there looking all awkward and unsure, like, are you supposed to be bowing three times? Do I say the prayer before or after I do the bowing? You didn’t tell me I had to sprinkle the holy water! Not a bad thing, all in all, in the grand scheme of things. I think this also falls squarely within the purview of Undesirable Familiarity. I can’t imagine what the undertaker feels like.

What this all translates to, at the end of the day, is an Undesirable Familiarity with your own mortality. Which is not to say that one needs to be all Anthem for Doomed Youth on oneself, but clearly there is still some emotional distance between your young self and your not-so-impending death, since young is as young does and for a good long while, one remains blissfully free from the taint of one’s own mortality. Yet. Yet. The first passing of each new generation is always more poignant than the ones that eventually follow, if only because it marks a new wave of depression and self-doubt and self-medication and eventually funerals. Not of others. But your own.

So therein lies the problem with a family that spans four generations. It could have been for the past six decades you have thought yourself the child, even though you are also a spouse and a parent and a grandparent. And you accepted that people were ill for x numbers of years and went regularly into hospitals for strokes and heart attacks and hip operations, and sometimes it would be a slow decline and other times it would be overnight, but you were never too surprised by the eventuality. Because it was, of course, just a matter of time. Nothing to be surprised about. But a death irrevocably marks the paradigm shift from Child to undeniably, unmistakably, Adult, and even as the generation below you moves towards a blase acceptance of the inevitable, it is you who moves to the new class of people who struggle with those mundane everyday questions of “what shall I do to keep myself healthy”, “how do I avoid going to hospital so often”, “what I shall do with all my property when I pass away” and “what will happen to my children when I die”.

I think it is scary when you find you can no longer avoid the siren song of the end of your life.

463: Sweet summer sweat

Small joys — really small. 

When I was 13, Napster was It. There was nothing like it, and we used it for everything from chatting to downloading (I’m sorry, you meant, “sharing”?) to flirting online with your first love, tiptoeing around social niceties and the wonders and horrors of the Internet, strange and new as it all was (and all together at one go!). The rest, they say, is history. 

History has a way of repeating itself. So, when I was 14, I scrambled to get every video I could find. DVD? No such thing yet (I think). VCD? Concert footage? Pink Floyd? Led Zeppelin? Dire Straits? The Eagles? All in the days of their being wild, being young, in the days before I was even young. Still I watched. I collected. I remembered. I sometimes think, it must have been from there, watching close-ups of all these great players picking away expertly at their guitars, tugging at my heartstrings as surely as they were right here in front of me, that I began to think that I could only love those whose fingers were in the right places, whose tastes in music were in the right eras. Namely, that great period of rock, in which I (and them) was conveniently not born: the 1970s and 1980s. It is funny how we always think we love more those things we cannot see.

So, there was this one video. Memorable mainly because at that time (and those times after), it reminded me of a boy who could play just like that. But the boy came and left, and the crackly moving video remained, and from time to time I would re-watch it and let the music, those fingers, the smiles and the way they sounded the damn bloody same — take me away. It was 1977, in Houston, the Capital Theatre. Rehearsing Seven Bridges Road, rushing into the concert hall. Don Henley, sounding the same as he did 35 years ago as he does today. The drums. Glenn Frey. But those two guitars. Those two guitars

My computer crashed when I was 16. I found it again, which was easy in the days when these things were easy to find. I watched it during those cold days in Tilburg when the snow was outside my window and my mind still felt frozen. When I came back in 2009 my computer crashed again. But six years later, reality has set in and these things are no longer as easy to find as they used to be. 

Once in a while, when the urge takes me, I continue the search. There are many videos of them in 1977, some even taken by a member of the audience of that very same live show. But I’ve watched it so many times, too many times, to know that it was not That Video. 

Until today, when the urge took me again. I don’t know why it took me so long. But I found it. I Found It. It’s one of those things, you know? It’s like the times where you think in your head about what is going to happen when Love #1 pops up in front of you and asks you about what’s going to happen from here. What is it that you really want? What do you want to do?

I don’t know. I don’t know. Don’t know where I’m going, not going where I’ve gone. You can’t travel old roads, but you sure as hell can keep them in sight. 

449: half the distance takes you twice as long

Things I never imagined I would admit to:

too many things, most of which are too private to name.

Which means, at the end of the day, that I would never admit to them. Because if I did, I would, right? But I haven’t, and so I wouldn’t. (I am really the queen of such self-defeating logic…) It’s rapidly approaching that time of year, when everything seems to coalesce into one big time-bomb, waiting for me to set it off. I feel like Something Big will happen to me soon, and whether or not it’s for the better, nobody knows (which is what I always say, is it not? I get tired of it, sometimes, too) — whenever summer approaches, I feel unreasonably happy. I don’t know if it’s anything in particular; mostly I just recall the joy I felt at the coming of spring, the promise of summer barbecues, summer sun, the music festivals, the way I was so relieved winter was over and the snow was out, coming home and seeing the first person that I saw … and everything in between. I picked out all the good parts of that year and stashed it into my summer memories, ready to be called up whenever I wanted, whenever July came crashing towards me.

And it has. Suddenly it’s June. And then I also feel unreasonably sad, because everything has a flip side. Where does all the time go? (Another question I ask a lot.) It seems like half my time is spent lamenting the passing of time. But these days I have less and less time, and true to form, I spend my time wasting time rather than doing anything… lately it’s such a privilege to waste time, you know? Lately I just had one of the best weekends in a while. I feel anxious not to ascribe to it anything more important than there actually is, but on hindsight it was wonderful because it allowed me to not think about anything. (Okay, but then again, I lie, because all these thoughts were running through my head…) But I’m not used to not thinking about anything, and every step of the way I can’t help it. The best I can do is to push the thoughts aside — but by then, it’s too late. I find myself drawing myself into a circle. That too terrifies me.

What do you do when you so badly want to make sense of your life? Sometimes, it is what it is, right? (like that age-old sentiment: “It’s just you and me  — if it is love, so let it be”) One cannot compartmentalise. Unlike what I said a few years ago, nothing is ever as easy as Before, After and During. Though increasingly it seems it is the only way we measure anything, just because there are so few other indicators. I cannot put things into a box and shut them away.

There was a time when I wrote that nobody knew who I was talking about. I always imagined that many years later as I tracked back to look at my old posts I would be the only one with that secret knowledge. As it turns out, even I can’t remember who I was writing about, some of the time. But these days the people get fewer and fewer, though it seems our lives get more and more complicated. Or maybe we let so few people into our lives at any one point in time, that any more (and any more new developments) complicate matters instantly. (Wow, this post is totally incoherent.)

I remembered what I did today, driving along the highway (I’m always driving along highways) — the car is flying, my mind is empty, The Eagles are playing. Take it easy, they say, one of my favourite songs. Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.

448: battle ready

Every morning, I get up at 8am. This used to be unthinkable; lately people tell me it’s a luxury. I don’t have to brave the sun and rain in my heels to get to the trains; I am a spoilt child through and through, and my mother drives me there, for all of two minutes. Sometimes she feels charitable and I get driven all the way there. I am aware this is not normal. But nothing is normal lately.

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443: lunchtime jukebox

This is a little talk, I guess, about food.

It sounds funny, but it’s also about control. For me the concepts of food and control are kind of bound up. Because control means self-control, the kind where you have to stop yourself from peeking in the fridge at 3am to find something to eat, but it’s also about the amount of control you have over your life. What you want to do. What you want to eat. What you are. What you want to be. It goes without saying that most people feel good that they’re in control — of something. That they don’t feel like they’re just drifting along, carried away by some trend or another, only to find themselves washed up at the end. Because it is a scary thing, to be washed up. Hung out to dry. Helpless. One of my greatest fears is waking up one day not knowing how on earth I became what I was, and knowing that it is too late to change it. But I digress.

I talked about this because food in my house is not my own. As such, it directly impinges on the amount of control I feel I have over my life. I’ve noticed a pattern, since I came home from overseas. It doesn’t work for everybody, since I was one of the few who lost weight when I was away from home. But yet, a large part of it was due to circumstances (everyone thinks it is just about emotional upheavals, but there was also the fact that I was off steroids for a year…). A larger part, however, was being in control of your own life. Our parents think we will starve while overseas. But the cooking philosophy is so different. Perhaps student cooking is really all about subsistence food, but we cooked up yummy meals all the same, and while we sometimes resorted to packaged or canned foods, a large part of the ingredients were fresh. At least for me, little of it was processed, since my number-one killer supper food (Maggi Mee) was so expensive that I never ate it all that often. Beer was cheap, and so I never drank soft drinks (for a year! Without knowing!). When it came down to it, there were really only these few foods I didn’t mind living on. It was always mushrooms, spinach, tofu, potatoes, pasta, rice, bread, salmon (sometimes, if I was feeling rich), chicken breast, bacon, eggs, and courgette. In different variations. I made coq au vin once. I drank minimal coffee (there was no need to wake up on time). I ate when I was hungry and I didn’t when I was not. When I wanted to eat something, I had to cook it. When there was no food, I had to buy it. And yet, filled with an empty refrigerator most of the time, I always felt like I knew what I wanted to eat, what I had to cook, and whatever was in the fridge could be turned into something edible, comforting, warm.

Cut to the present date, where it’s 2.30am and I’m standing in my kitchen in Singapore. My refrigerator is never empty (ever). My larder is always filled. There is always something to drink, a ton of chocolate in different flavours and from various countries, blah blah. But there is nothing to eat. There is nothing I want to eat. Because none of it is mine. I feel constrained by the fact that none of this is my choice. How strange could it be that I am standing in front of a cupboard full of food, thinking that there is nothing to eat? But it is possible. Everything in there is canned, dried, a snack, some sauce or another. Nothing seemed appetising; everything was processed. As I realised how much I did without when I was overseas, the thought about control drifted back into my mind. That was it, you see, that I had no control over what I was buying, and therefore I couldn’t control what I could eat. I thought about eating a block of tofu for lunch once, just cold, with soya sauce and bonito flakes. It sounded clean and healthy (and probably gross to everyone else). I dreamt about it for ages. But there was no tofu in the house. There would be none still, if I didn’t go out and buy it. And yes, of course I could go out and buy it. And perhaps it begins to sound like I’m making excuses for myself. But I have no time. Why would I go all the way just to buy a block of tofu? And how weird is it to buy groceries for one, when there are five of us? It seems rebellious to even try, in a strange sort of way. A bit anti-establishment. Like I was opting out of some programme, or some community. Everything seems planned, and my job is to fit in somewhere. Even my mealtimes are not my own.

As one comes back to a house which is not truly one’s own, one has to live by whatever rules were set by those who came before. I do not own this house, nor the life I live within it (家有家规, they always say). When previously I would have breakfast at whatever time I woke up, or have lunch only when I felt hungry, the rest of my time in Singapore has been an endless repeat of “It’s already 1pm, why are you not eating?” (and then, if you wanted not to eat, as sure as the snooze button, the increasingly not-so-friendly family voice would pop up every 5 minutes to repeat the same question till you caved in and ate). It disorients me a little, which is why I prefer to stay out most of the time, where at least I can control my mealtimes, if not my food.

Isn’t it all a bit unnecessary, this musing? But the fact remains that I am still hungry, and there is a kitchen full of food, and yet there is nothing for me to eat.

440: too much damn glass

It seemed … a little strange, even to my little Singaporean mind.

(We have such a tendency to label ourselves “little”, as if by sheer geographical size we could define our entire personalities. That being in a small country meant your mind was small. Yet such small minds breed a heavy air of self-deception, conning us into believing we have smaller egos. But we don’t, and the auntie walking through the wet market in the early morning who gets brushed aside by some maid buying vegetables before her will tell you exactly what I mean. We do not think we are little at all.)

When I went to Europe I was awed, as I always am whenever faced with a pile of history. The weight of years was never something I could ever comprehend, or perhaps it just had something to do with astronomical numbers. It puzzled me, whenever I looked at a church, a square, (yet) another church, (yet) another palace, how old it all was. How similar it all was, bound by age and neglect. People respected their buildings, and were proud of them. Centuries of use did not diminish a place’s value, nor did anyone mind the black-streaked stone, the dusty marble floors. The statues and paintings are painstakingly restored, the light darting through the stained-glass windows, casting shadows when there should be none. In those hidden corners somebody is praying, whispering quietly, admiring something or another, taking a picture or four hundred.

How can something last so long? The concept was as foreign to me as it was to my other friends, and for more than once in my life I wished my country had a history. Not a short, measly, self-made one, but a long incomprehensible history, filled with bloodied wars and revolutions and teeming with ideals I did not have to fight for to have. Where liberty was earned by my ancestors and not thrown away the moment it was retrieved. Not somewhere where the national anthem rings out pointlessly every morning, 7.20am sharp, as every school-going child will tell you. I wanted to see it for myself, the weight of our past, even if it hung over the sky like a bomb waiting to explode. The past is a bomb waiting to explode. Only — someone must want to drop it. My foreign-placed self wanted a place where the past rang out, where it was embraced. It was so much easier to see when you were outside of Singapore. I wanted a place where the past was not whitewashed.

Did you ever notice it? How every old building in Singapore is painted white, like the ancient sculptures. Painted to look new, austere, clean. “Old” is a dirty word in Singapore. “Old” means obsolete, useless, good for irrelevant things, like the old aunties and uncles who totter up and down the fast food aisles and the hawker centres serving food, cleaning plates, wiping tables. Things young people should be doing. Not things one should do after a lifetime of back-breaking work. Not after a lifetime of youth, where life is fast and always in the fast lane. “Old” means slow. But people don’t die young these days, and what is “old” must become new. The shophouses are repainted. The concert halls are repainted. The hawker centres, the markets, those little pockets of life, are hauled up and renovated. The “old” Parliament House does not look old at all, just as the new Parliament House is nowhere near “new”. You are not an old person, as you should rightly be; you are not elderly. You are a “senior citizen”, made instantly relevant by a conspicuous lack of reference to your age.

It was the reverse reaction, when my Austrian friends came to Singapore. They were awed by how developed this country was, and how it could have been done in such a short time. She asked how old Singapore was. My nationally-educated mind told her that we were forty-five. “In Europe,” Sandra said, “forty-five years is nothing.” And of course it was, once I thought about it. How else should it have been? In a continent where wars last a hundred years, and universities have been standing for a thousand, our independence is a short blip in the annals of time. A footnote in their history books, or maybe not even then. Yet I was amazed that they were amazed, for I had been so in awe of the idea of history that it had never occurred to me that someone else might find it mind-blowing for an entire country to be built to proportion in the length of time it took to fight a war. For a history to form. It is true. “Old” does indeed mean slow. When you have been around for so long, there is no need to rush. There are no more battles to win, no more dreams to conquer. It seems like a simple revelation now, that someone could be stunned by speed just as I was awed by time. But as I was walking along Boat Quay looking at the Fullerton Hotel telling them that it used to be the Post Office, the epiphany blew my mind.

Yet underneath all this the past is lurking. Where is our history? It must be hidden somewhere, in all the old people, in the old buildings. In the five-foot ways of Chinatown and the metal plaques along Orchard Road, which predictably are no longer there, that nostalgic mark of our history, replaced with lighted glass montrosities that will not last even five years. New things spring up too quickly even as we forget the old things. Perhaps it will get better, after a century or two, or five. Where the rush to make things new will calm down and life rolls on slower and statelier, when people realise that things must last long for others to remember. The Fullerton was a post office. Why don’t post offices look like that anymore? Why don’t churches give us something to visit or remember? Instead they are made of glass, which will be clouded by time and easily knocked down with a wrecking ball. Our highest court sits in a spaceship; extraterrestrial, a different world altogether. The dome is also made of glass. Every shopping centre in Singapore has a glass facade with blinking lights. There is so much damn glass in this country we could rival Murano.

It hurts me, sometimes. That it is not reinvention, but erasure. Things are built to be easily erasable. Where mistakes are easily rectified, and so it is so much easier to build mistakes. You would spend your lifetime designing a building if you wanted it to stand for a few hundred years. In our country even stone bridges collapse because they are built too quickly. It hurts too, sometimes, to think of how it must also have been like, for those long incomprehensible histories. It must have been the same, with the same pointless impermanent architecture, with the same indignant protests. Because what you know is what you remember, and who knows what else has already been forgotten.

438: forgetting orchard road

I remember —

  • When the normal McSpicy meal was a McSpicy double. Now they market it like some newfangled awesome burger like we are getting a damn good deal — they think we don’t remember. We do remember, but we get conned into buying it anyway.
  • When they used to have ice-cream in Twist.
  • When McDonald’s meals were $4.50 normally and not part of some lunch time promotion.
  • When the first thing you saw when you walked into the Wisma underpass was McDonald’s on the right, and St. Cinnamon on the left.
  • I don’t even remember whether the aquarium still exists. But I don’t think it does.
  • When there used to be a huge hill for maids to picnic on Sundays, right where Ion Orchard now sits.
  • When you could actually cross the damn road.
  • When the best beef noodles in Orchard Road was at the food court at the basement of Scotts Shopping Centre.
  • When I bought my prom dress from Scotts Shopping Centre. I recently wore it the other day, and I was sad to have to tell people that not only does the shop no longer exist, the entire freaking building is gone.
  • When Fish & Co used to be at Wheelock Place.
  • When Wheelock Place was called Lane Crawford!
  • When there used to be a Haagen Dazs at Tangs, along the main road.
  • When Takashimaya was first built, and they were having a competition to name their mascots, and I wanted to call them Taka and Taki. I think they are called Joy and Roy.
  • When you had to walk by the old cobbler sitting along the walkway leading to Somerset MRT station in order to get there.
  • When there was still a car park where the monstrosity called 313@Somerset (what sort of shitty name is that?) now is.
  • The McDonald’s at Centrepoint used to be open air!
  • When Centrepoint used to have the most awesome Christmas decorations along the entire road. Then some smart aleck decided to ‘revamp’ the facade and now everything is just glass. Like every other building along Orchard Road.
  • When Marche and NYDC were the coolest places on earth to eat.
  • When Quickly bubble tea had a branch at Lucky Plaza and the queues were longer than KOI’s.
  • The Swensen’s. IT IS GONE.
  • What used to be the Hello! building. I don’t even know what is there anymore, or whether it is even there at all. I liked it when there was a Starbucks there. I would know if there was still a Starbucks there, but there isn’t. There also used to be a Popular there, where I first met a bunch of Chinese High boys peeking in between bookshelves and assessment books. Then it became a Party World KTV, which I also used to go to. Now … I have no idea.
  • Oh my goodness. The Popular at Orchard MRT station. The place to go for emergency stationery supplies for millions of RGS girls.
  • Does anyone else remember that there used to be a Jack’s Place hidden at the side of the Citibank building (which is next to Heeren?)
  • When Emerald Point still existed (you know the one directly opposite 313? Where there is now a huge gaping hole? Which used to be (1) Crystal Jade, (2) Bee Cheng Hiang, (3) some irrelevant jewellery shop?)
  • When the Dhoby Ghaut MRT station was just a blue print in my Social Studies textbook. I’m pretty sure I still have that textbook. It had a diagram which showed eight levels of stuff. There it is now, in full tangible glory. Not a blue print.
  • The old Cathay.
  • MY NATIONAL LIBRARY. NOW AN ERP TUNNEL (!!!!!)

You know, I also know for a fact that they changed the main road facade of the entrance to Emerald Hill. I know because I clearly remember lamenting how it had changed and I would no longer remember how it used to look like. And now I no longer remember how it used to look like. Except that it has somehow changed.

Like so many other things in life, we only remember the changing, and not the change itself.

434: where i would like to be

I know I say this altogether too often, but what is up with the weather?

For once, can it PLEASE RAIN? I don’t understand why people hate the rain in Singapore. Sure it dampens moods, and you have to cancel half your plans, but there’s just something about hiding indoors when outdoors (I mean, hiding inside somewhere when you’re out, i.e. not your house). The smell of rain is wonderful, as is the post-rain quietness that settles over the city. The sky is blueish-grey, and feet patter across wet walkways. We squeal when we step into puddles, though whether from delight or horror. More importantly, it is not hot. The night wind feels marvellous. Everyone is in a better mood.

I don’t know how it became so hot. Maybe it’s global warming, because summers are getting hotter everywhere (time for the damn Europeans to finally invest in some airconditioning) and the winters are getting colder and gloomier and longer. I didn’t remember it being this scorching when I was a kid. My childhood car used to have one of those temperature sensors —  now ubiquitous in every car, but it was the height of automobile technology then (along with a colour TV, in-built voice recognition software, and a million other sensors; cool hor. This was 1993.) I remember when I thought 32 degrees was OMG HOT. Now it’s the average daily temperature. Life sucks, we’re all going to die.

Nothing like soba on a hot day!

411: japanification

多几个月,就要回到日本去。虽然不是第一次,但总觉得流连忘返。 希望这一次可以玩得轻松,自由自在地逛着街,拍拍照。这段旅游代表的虽然是个全新的开始,但也代表了童年的末期。

上完这个学期,青春似乎就要结束了。虽然人总要迈向未来,但有时候还会怀旧。到时候,起码也要笑笑地怀念着以前的回忆。

现在就设法尽情享受人生!

408: only because all your stars are out

It always amazes me how quickly time passes, and nothing marks it more clearly than family coming and going, and then all coming back. It was the first time in a long time that we’d all been together, crowding around a table eating steamboat. We huddled over, fighting over the same food, talking about (almost) the same things: life, love, relationships, business. How young people these days are going to the dogs. How inconsiderate people must be shot. Australian wine, prawn allergies, who wants to eat beef, please pass me the vegetables, etc. The conversation spanned everything and nothing. These days as I get older there are few big revelations, only small realisations. And it was this way I identified joy, from two men over a (n almost) silent clink of beer. There were many 干杯s after that, but it started with the first, joyful meeting of eyes, a spark that rekindled. My uncle hadn’t seen or talked to my father over a steamboat dinner in seven years. It was as long for all of us. But what we missed was a space my father filled. He was an uncle, a husband, my father, which was not to say that none of these was worth remembering. But to my uncle he was one of the few he could really talk to, perhaps barred by a generation gap and lack of heartfelt conversation. Business friends don’t make good confidantes — relatives, especially once-removed ones, perhaps even more so. But there is something oddly joyful, oddly peaceful (and vaguely comforting) about seeing two men step out into the backyard with two cans of beer in their hands. Two chairs, under the mango tree. I cherished the scene for all of two minutes, when the rest of the family started inching in, eroding their conversation time bit by bit.

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407: keep me up till five

It seems kind of silly now but there’s something about red lips and blue eyes that strikes a chord in my heart. It could be the contrast, because it feels like they belong on a pale face, but mostly it’s just because the colour combination tends to make anyone look pretty (like Snow White! White, red and blue. Like France too.)

So anyway, J. D. Salinger is dead. I always feel kind of sad at these authors’ passings, as if they used to be an old (but distant) friend. The kind you used to sit next to in primary school, huddled together looking over comic books under the desk (the kind you knew intimately) — the kind that drifted once you entered secondary school, different classes, took different subjects, and ended up in two different countries now that you’re twenty-two. Then you hear the news, and you’re kind of shocked. One never really knows what to say in the face of death, especially one as distant (but impactful) as this.

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406: 下辈子别再做女人

The first two weeks of the new year have been kind to me (but not my waistline). Increasingly I realise events that I thought would have been more significant to me pass me by without me noticing, which makes me realise that oftentimes things are not as important as we think they are at first. I spent the first few days of the new year in Taipei, where random people wished us 新年快乐 in the streets. It sounded a bit discordant at first, mainly because I still never get used to this whole idea of new years till it’s too far in to deny that the dates have changed. Then I went to Hong Kong to attend a wedding, and it was beautiful. Every wedding I attend brings with it some wistfulness (I’m a girl, don’t expect any less) — ever since I was a little girl I’d think to how it would be like when it was finally my turn. (I know when I finally get married I’ll look back on all these posts and laugh at what a silly person I was. That’s the beauty of hindsight.)

I used to laugh and joke with R about this, when we were overseas. I remember spending the few days after Christmas, before we left for Paris, in W’s house. It was one late night, after S and M (haha) had come over from Charing Cross Road and we littered W’s carpet with mulled wine and chips (Walker’s Sensations!). Talking about life and love and weddings, and how we feared we’d never have enough time to find a boyfriend within the next few years. We have no more time!, we lamented. I was twenty-one, teetering on the edge of twenty-two. I was young, but not as young as I ever would be. I was not eighteen, or nineteen, or any of the ages where I could freely discard everything I knew about life and society and all the things that would actually make a relationship work. We were clear about that. Where were all the boys in our lives, and where would they be? When would the next one come along? What was the probability of one actually coming along, in the next few years, that love of your life that you absolutely must marry? We continued talking about this, way into Paris, talking about how at fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, one never cares about whether the boy you like is likely to do this, or that, or cheat on you. At those ages love, or whatever we thought it was, was enough. He was tall. He played basketball. Or rugby, or softball, or ran the 200m. He played the guitar, he wrote you poems. Both of you walked around Orchard Road, or Junction 8, or Parkway Parade, after school, holding hands tentatively. You were scared to bump into anybody else, or it would be all over the class the next day. We carried these moments in our heads, all the way up to that night in London, where we let them all out again.

(from ourblogoflove.com)

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401: the life cycles of earthworms

When you’re little the world is so big. Nothing prepares you for the period in between where you grow up, grow a brain, and realise that the world is bigger than you think. There is nothing to fill it, not even close. There are empty spaces across lawns where laughing children should be, along avenues where lovers should stroll in the evening light, romantic (and deluded) as it sounds, in the wake of trailing exhaust fumes from the nearby cars. The vehicles themselves are packed like sardines along the roads, barely an inch or two to weave in and out of spiderweb traffic, but inside the drivers amble along their lonely roads without anyone to keep them company. There are human-shaped spaces where people should be, even if the air camouflages them and we sometimes lose our focus.

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389: i reach out for you (and our hearts collide)

Checked shirt days are rare. Checked shirt days are the days when the clouds are grey and the sky is overcast and it threatens to rain all day but it doesn’t. Not till you’re inside ensconced in the building where you are constantly on the verge of freezing. But you don’t because your checked shirt saves you. Checked shirts are for days when you feel lonely and cold and require some warmth. A hug that doesn’t need to come from people. Checked shirts are for warm coffee and nice books and hiding in your bed.

Anyway I just bought another one, so that’s one more hug for me!

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