As a third culture kid, home is everywhere and nowhere in particular. For a long time now, I’ve felt like the tortoise that carries its home on its back. Home is a feeling – a place in my heart, not a physical location. And yet every time I come back to Singapore, I remember that this is where I was born. I grew up in this city. It is familiar to me. Always will be. But I’ve lived so many lifetimes in the 11 years since leaving Singapore that I feel I’ve outgrown the streets and alleys of my childhood.
He was the patriarch. A gentle soul who was strict when he needed to be. I was loved. I was scolded. I was indulged. I was disciplined. Despite the distance, I received a card on every birthday – and a present every Christmas. No soul ever forgets what it feels like to love and be loved by another human being.
I spent so much time in UK as a kid that everyone (except me) seems to remember all my childhood antics and habits. Yes – I really did eat food from the altar whilst grandma was praying. And yes – I really did spit out my pacifier whenever it was dinnertime. I see the look of confusion on my relatives’ faces as they walk through the door – a look that morphs into familiar recognition once I utter my name and remind them whose kid I am. After a good 13 years, I am back in England. Although it’s been that long – it feels like I never left.
But what is the white rose? Why does it exist? And why does it continue to exist even after Death has left its mark? Perhaps it’s a reminder of purity – that even after all those transient life experiences – there’s a part of us that remains forever untouched.
A wanderer’s life is a one of perpetual transition. I find myself constantly shifting between lives – letting go, letting in, holding on. Some people I want to hold onto, but life’s forcing me to let go. Some stories lay open and unfinished – leaving me wondering if I’ll get to write another page someday. Other tales survive life’s hard tests of time and distance – the chapters still unfolding; a story without an end.
The table is set for two. It’s been a while since I cooked for another human being. A while since I planned out an evening. A while since I embraced being in the kitchen. A while since I listened to Tracy Chapman and sipped on red wine while nibbling on Camembert cheese. This whole process feels really old to be so new.
I’m back home for a week. I can’t say I was particularly excited by the thought of coming home. My heart was filled with a mixture of dread and a wee bit of excitement. The latter mainly due to all the yummy food I’m going to eat. And man do we Singaporeans know how to eat.