I’ve been in a melancholic mood over the weekend from tidying up this blog and skimming through memories.
I’ve been bulldozing through the last 12 months: 3 months looking for jobs, another 4 stuck in anxiety waiting for my work visa, followed by 2 months of misery and fear because of the Philippine government’s incompetency and OEC restrictions. Anxiety hovered around me during the last 3 months as I kept a mental checklist of things to do before I am settled down: get my tax number, find a place to rent, renew passport, file tax. Month in and out, there’s always something important I have to put in order. In the middle of all these, I might have conveniently underestimated what it meant to relocate and seeing some old posts, even from 2016, reminded me of things I’ve left behind.
I loved Singapore, and I loved the friends I made there. Despite this, I’ve never questioned my desire to move to a new city. Moving was a chance to learn more and grow. It was a promise of new adventures, new places, new people. It was a temptation I fully embraced once the opportunity arose. I love Melbourne now, too, and consider myself lucky that I’ve met only the warmest people as I tried to get used to the Australian winter. But now that my checklist is empty, now that I’ve ‘settled’, suddenly I have time to think what the hell am I doing?
While I was in the middle of moving countries, friends around me were also going through milestones in their lives. I’m now reminded of the goodbyes I didn’t make, weddings I couldn’t attend, babies I didn’t see. I’ll be able to travel to visit them in the future for sure, but I’ve started to think about the real cost of moving that I previously ignored. Ignorance is bliss, as Thomas Gray may have said, and I’m pricked by a bit of regret and I feel like a terrible friend. For someone who’s ran away from so many relationships, suddenly caring too much about these things makes me feel out of character. It makes me feel old, because what else but age distracts us from the glittering present?
I think I might have read somewhere that forgetting is a gift and skill we need for survival. And that’s what I do when I busy myself, when I focus on work, when I’m trying to master this adulting that never seems to end. I forget the what-if’s. What if I stayed in Singapore? What if I was able to attend Gail’s wedding? Play with friends’ babies? Have lunch with dear friends in the city? Have drinks with the gang from Huge? I don’t dwell. I don’t feel sad. I was so busy (and sometimes busy worrying) that on weekends I only want to rest.
Now that I’m left to ponder, I wonder if I’ve pulled myself out of Singapore right when I was making closer relationships with people. The chance for career growth and new experiences, above all else — was that worth prioritising? Having deep relationships is one thing I fear and yearn for the most, and leaving before I get a chance to develop early friendships is quite the opposite of that.
Alone, sort of, in a city where my internet is too slow to pull me back into distractions gaming used to afford, suddenly I’m not always forgetting. I’m thinking, I’m back at square one. I’ve reset my life. I’ve uprooted myself and I have to create relationships again. I have to find kindred spirits.
Some days I feel like I’m working hard. Other days I feel like I haven’t done enough. If I looked back on this day a year from now, I hope I’d only be reminded of the struggle at the start while enjoying some sweet little triumphs.