Being away from Singapore for a little over seven months, the first thing that greeted me was not the humidity that reminded me that I am back home.
The first sight was Asians when I landed at Changi airport. Humidity only came seconds after the door of the airport opened. Home to fizzy hair and constant perspiration.
After being a minority (which I enjoyed very much) in South America, now I am back being a majority of the pack.
Everything seemed familiar yet for a lack of a better word, strange. It was something I had to get used to. I did not like it at all.
Why? There was no longer the sense of adventure, manoeuvring around the airport was a no-brainer. I know where exactly I should be going and passing through immigration customs was a breeze.
Everything in Singapore is in English, my native language. Having seen Spanish everywhere for past 7 months, my brain had this 10% that was still functioning in Spanish. It acted as though it was ready to receive and deliver all airport signs and simple words in Spanish.
During the drive back home, the scenery was exactly like how I played it in my mind all those times I was in South America. Those roads, Singapore Flyer and iconic city skyline, there were little or no changes at all. Something inside me was miserable. It felt like the past 7 months was a dream. A dream I lived and had to leave behind to come back to reality here in Singapore.
There were no hugs of happiness that I am back, no how are you, no how was the flight and no how was the trip when I returned home. It felt like an ordinary day in the household, business as usual. The mobile phone got connected to the WiFi automatically, my dad sat in front of the computer and my mum busied herself in the kitchen. The house was clean and in order, even my bedroom.
I am grateful that my room had been kept clean while I was away. My bed sheets were changed right before I came home so I had clean sheets to lie on after coming home.
As I entered my room, I was astounded by the number of things I owned and how cluttered my room was. I had forgotten about my mess at home while I was away living out of a backpack. Having lived with so little for the 3 months on the road made me realise that I do not need many material things to get by in life. It disgusted me to the point that I had the impulse to get rid of everything!
I came a long way home, I was exhausted. I showered and went straight to bed exactly like how I would come home to these drills every night.
Lying on my bed felt normal. I thought I would have a feeling as though I am coming back into the welcoming arms of my lover, but nope. No sense of contentment or happiness of “Ahhh, I miss you Bed”. It felt as though I left my bed that morning coming back to it that night. The normality was kind of scary.
Did I miss home all this while when I was away? Good question. I was missing the food in Singapore to be more specific. I thought I would gorge myself with the contentment of local delights but once I touched down, those cravings vanished into the thin air.
The first week of coming home was tough, extremely tough. I was adapting and battling with the jet lag I refused to acknowledge.
I was scared and lost. I started to doubt if it was the mid-life crisis and if mine came early!
I was full of displeasure. What happened to the deep appreciation and sense of pride I had developed for my birth country? It was replaced with boredom, normality and empty souls rushing in the hustle and bustle of Singapore. All I see everywhere are brand advertisements, consumerism at its peak. I am not buying into all these anymore. I have changed. I am not the old Pam anymore.
I missed the warmth and welcoming culture in South America where people are genuinely kind and friendly. I miss travelling, planning for upcoming days or weeks. I missed meeting new people, exploring new places and creating adventures.
Coming home means I had to cope with the drastic change. In fact, adapting back to the life here is harder than adapting to a different environment at the other side of the world. One of my best traits is being adaptable. I was not adapting. What happened? There could be something in me that was resisting the adaptation. It was hard. My heart was not ready, not so much of not ready to put my South America adventure behind. It was not ready for the future.
It has been 8 weeks since I am back, I am coping better than before. Reflecting on the weeks, I came to realise I was too hard on myself. I was giving myself internal stress because I played upon the unspoken external stress.
I was anxious to get my life back on track. Only when I learn how to let go and find peace, I became more settled and happier. In fact, I am happier than I was when I first came home.
In one of my previous posts I talked about taking the big step out, I mentioned a quote by Steve Jobs that left a deep imprint in my life.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever” – Steve Jobs
Now that I looked back, I am able to see how some of those dots I created are connecting. Life has a mysterious way of unfolding. I am curious to be enlightened at the end of my life cycle when those dots connect altogether. How everything will eventually make sense when I take my last breath.
From now till then, I am learning how not to try controlling life, trust my guts, be patient and live life. I am learning how to give myself time. Time to adapt, time to grow and allow things to fall into place.
Of the love I lost for the country, it may rekindle one day or maybe not. For now, I have come to terms that I do not need to love. I just need to be okay to be here and I am. Maybe time is all I need.