All of the time, I feel like that poem on the art of losing. You know the one about losing cities and continents. The art of losing is not hard to muster, so many things filled with intent to be lost… yeah that one. I get uprooted from comfort zones and nostalgic streets so many times that I don’t have a favourite brand of milk, don’t care so much about fresh flowers, or have a go-to restaurant.
It was sad to let go of all of those things when I left Melbourne a year ago. With 7.5 years of memories and 6 mega boxes sent for shipping, it was the longest I’ve stayed anywhere. Also, it was the place where a lot of the developmental processing and character building happened.
Indonesia gave me impeccable music taste (boy band music aficionado, I’m no entry-level fan for trashy music, I can play recorder to a bunch of dangdut songs), a fondness for the macabre and camp and a steel stomach. Europe gave me books, art, fussiness, and my pro-anti behaviour. And Melbourne gave me freedom, thinking, organic drugs, institutionalised education I enjoyed, coffee, snobbery and resourcefulness. And a bunch of things, I just picked the ones that would make me sound eloquent.
I’m not sure what I’ll get out of Singapore. I’ve been here a year already. I still talk about Melbourne too fondly, I still miss how Indonesia smells, and I still dress like I’m in Europe. I think about leaving all the time but I have started buying groceries in the house, I have a weekly chore I do (mopping while singing the whole Yuck album or One Direction), I’m starting to learn new things via YouTube (how to play banjo is next). I even started inviting friends to my house and I like Night Rider bus rides now. I have a job which I like with colleagues that are all right and sometimes my friends fly down to Singapore and we have fun. I watched New Order this year which is surreal and I also saw Sigur Ros perform twice in two different places, within three days which is more surreal-er. I still learn new things everyday and things that make me laugh still make laugh. I still make puns and bad jokes but I’m not the only one making (bad) jokes now so that’s good. Foucault is still my favourite and I quote him and Marx a lot, still. I am still a wanker.
I still hate crowds and pretentious people make me feel small. I think beer here is too expensive so I don’t drink so much anymore. I’ve gotten used to drinking in front of my mom at home. I still don’t like mee rebus, mee siam and mee soto and I don’t care so much for nasi lemak really. I hate Bandung, the drink. The world hates Singapore because we still have a death penalty and we seem to disregard human rights and rights of foreign workers. There is no culture of protest here, which I hate. But I’m here. I’ve been here for a year now in a non-rented house. They say some temporary things are permanent and that seems to be the status quo. And my favourite brand of milk is Meiji, fresh peonies and hydrangeas are cool, and the eating places where I work are pretty ace.
Panda’s Kitchenette, Manila
There’s a rush in the household now. My grandparents are leaving for Europe until January next year and are packing, asking me if I have black socks and a spare jumper. I’ve just arrived back from Manila with a lot of undone laundry and an unpacked suitcase so of course, there is a lot of nagging. I enjoy this chaos my household has somewhat always have been. A good sort of frantic. Good on my grandparents for still taking planes, still having adventures, albeit still learning how to use modern cameras.
I also like the feeling of impermanence in everything. Always moving, always going somewhere. 25 years, a handful of places I have called home, a couple of passports, sometimes I think it’s hereditary. It used to affect me so much not having an institutionalized identity, but I guess it is what you take from all of this that matters. Sure it says ‘Others’ on my identity card here in Singapore but I’m pretty fine with that now. It’s just semantics.
Children in an English bomb shelter, 1940-41
- From British Information Service/U.S. Office of War Information