The humidity wasn't what it normally was.
Expecting temperatures that would boil an egg on a sidewalk, I was pleasantly greeted by Singapore's cool breeze tossling my hair. On this Monday night, straight off the plane and out the doors of Changi Airport, I was back home.
Sort of. A sense of familiarity met an unexplainable flutter of wonder in my surroundings. Here I was, a 3rd culture stranger in my birth country.
I smiled slowly, with an expectancy that this week would be full of discovery.
As the bus passes by Telok Kurau, I'm swept by a wave of childhood memories. Atop the red, purple and white double-decker, I can see myself at the age of 8, straining my neck to peer out at traffic over the chair tops.
It seems like it was a lifetime ago. In a way, it really was.
The simple act of boarding the bus was curious enough, bringing back Primary 3 afternoons of being just a bit taller than the automatic fare machine, exploring the city by myself. Independence was the extra gift given to me by my curiosity. If I hadn't had to figure my way around back then at such an early age, I wonder where I'd be now. In retrospect, those experiences have since led me to bus and train terminals across the world.
I alight at the Bedok Bus Interchange, with the hum of daily commuters rapidly rushing by as they continue to their next destination. Glancing around, groggy drivers step off as the fleets of buses swap shift. Long days have seen the hands on their watches walk in circles around each other as routine calls them in and out of duty. It feels good to be back.
Time skips a beat.
I blink and find myself at the staircase of my aunt Kim's apartment.
The 90's had me napping here often in the daze of the afternoons. I was a frequent visitor of the snack closet and a regular customer of Aunt Kim's bowlcut-hair love. My mom always made sure her son had only the best fashion sense.
Upstairs, it felt great to see the family again. It was several months ago and thousands of miles away on Facebook when I first found out my niece was born, continents apart. Initially, I wondered if she would ever know who I am. Today, I met her in person for the first time.
Picking her up, the whole world felt lighter.
Sometimes it's easy to forget everyone else is growing up around me, especially since we're normally stunned at how fast we're growing up ourselves. The fast forward button gets stuck sometimes, taking me from the amazing growing years I had in this house to seeing my aunt Kim as now a grandmother, taking care of the next generation. In a split second, I saw myself 10 years into the future, holding another baby girl that I'd call my own. Wow.
Here we were, in a new era.
Prioritizing my trip, I decide to put sightseeing on the back burner. Breathing in deeply, I pick up the phone. Aunts, uncles, cousins and friends come first on my to-see list, and trying to reach the kabillion relatives I have is going to be a challenge.
From accountants and human resource managers to government narcotics agents and Rolls Royce machinists, I dive deep into my extended family's lives and find out about their upbringing in Singapore. It brings me to wonder... what if I stayed?
Country club lunches with uncles and city drives with aunts throw me headfirst into a woven archive of the decisive love stories and curveball struggles that every family has. It's absolutely riveting hearing how the generation before me lived. I'm reassured to know that my parents went through similar personal challenges that I'm now experiencing growing up. The natural cycle has consolidated that there's nothing new under the sun.
As I write this, I'm sitting on a bus headed from Wuxi to Suzhou in China. Looking out my window, I can't tell if it is smog or fog completely consuming the air. I pause and inhale deeply. Here is a detailed recollection of the daily events that happened between Sept 7th to Sept 16th, 2013. It will include most of my thoughts as I jot down whatever comes to mind. Most importantly, it will be random.
I hope you enjoy reading this as much I enjoyed living it.
A blog on my continuing journey through life, covering self-development and success strategies, but also personal reflection.