If it were entirely up to me, I would have packed my bags and left quietly in the middle of the night. I just don’t do goodbyes very well. It is not the tears that I fear, for I’ve come to learn that the older I get the more incapable I am of any emotion. But rather, it’s the feeling of awkwardness and the hassle that I wish to avoid. The awkwardness of having to break the news to your family and friends and having to comfort them when they start becoming emotional, the hassle of having to sit through one farewell meal after another (even with people you are not that close to), repeating the same answers to the same set of questions over and over again. And when the time to say goodbye finally comes, the awkwardness of not knowing what to say to them. Goodbye, take care, see you again, do come to visit us. What else is there to say anyway?
There was a period of time several weeks ago when I was so inundated with requests for a farewell meal that I ended up going out everyday for 2 weeks straight, weekdays and weekends. I was coughing non-stop like a TB patient for weeks afterwards thanks to the excessive eating. But the biggest toll it took was clearly on my sanity. For the past one and a half months, in between meeting up with friends and entertaining family members who came to visit, I have become so deprived of my own personal time that all I ever wanted to do these days is just to retreat to my own little corner and read my book. I need my alone time so badly that even the prospect of packing up my stuff became something I look forward to. At least that way I’d get to spend some time on my own.
My good friend once told me I was being too nice by agreeing to all those farewell meal requests and that I should learn to just say no (or in her own words: fuck them). Frankly speaking, there are friends that I regularly spend time with and genuinely want to meet up with before I leave, and then there are also those that I could barely remember when we last spoke (Facebook doesn’t count), let alone met. I don’t know how to say this without alienating my own friends, but what’s the point of wanting to meet me if we’re not that close in the first place?
But at the end of the day, when the dust has settled I am of course very grateful for all the well-wishes that I’ve received (from close friends and not), the heartfelt messages, the recognition, the encouragement, and the affirmation. I am truly humbled by them. Nothing beats the feeling of knowing that you are loved and appreciated by the people you care about. I am thankful that some friends who used to live where I’m going to have also shared their experiences with me. And most importantly, I am extremely lucky to have good friends who will look after the one thing here that I’m going to miss the most, my beloved house. I will surely miss those mornings sitting on my tatami table writing, or those afternoons baking buttery biscuits in my kitchen.
Fifteen years is a very long time to remain in the same place, especially one as small and suffocating as Singapore. I’ve often said that I wouldn’t miss much from Singapore, but deep down inside I know I will miss a lot. Just the thought of having to manage life without the comfort of the security, convenience, and efficiency that Singapore brings is already enough to make me want to turn back. But living in Singapore is like living in a tiny little bubble where everything just works perfectly and is often too good to be true. The past couple of years have rendered me dull, lazy, unadventurous, unappreciative, disengaged, and complacent. It’s about time I get out of my comfort zone and go back to my roots. It’s about time I experience again how it feels to start from scratch, to actually put some effort to get the things that I want, and to be appreciative of what I used to have and can’t have anymore. To this day, I still recall fondly those bittersweet first few years when I just moved to Singapore. I recall how precious every obstacle I overcame and every milestone I achieved were. I need to feel that way again. I need to start living excitedly again.
They say a picture paints a thousand words. That’s just wonderful as I couldn’t possibly come up with that many words. These are just a handful of the people that I will truly miss. There are others not in this picture, but equally precious, who will always remain close to my heart. I apologise to anyone who feels offended by what I wrote and to those that I have indirectly snubbed in the past few weeks. Don’t worry, you’re not missing much by not meeting up with me. I’m not exactly fun to be with lately anyway.
1st January seems like an auspicious time to start a new life. We just spent our last few hours in Singapore eating junk food, drinking champagne, and playing Nintendo Wii. It’s nothing fancy, except for the champagne, but it’s definitely “us”. So here’s a toast to a great new year and an even greater new beginning. I hope yours will be as colorful as mine. Cheers!