D-17. We make our home in all sorts of places – from the depravity of freedom that we’ve come to all know as the military, the everydays that pass too quickly from work, a favourite corner by a coffee shop or simply a place or the places we always come back to. Our homes are people too: we make spaces in our heart for the ones we care about, and they do the same for us.
I faintly remember the feeling when I returned to Singapore: the humidity rushing in and engulfing you with its presence as I stepped out of the aircraft; the tiresome burden of national service weighing on my shoulders with every check-up I went for, accompanied with the solace and comfort of coming back to the familiar and the slow relearning of what home meant for me.
Home was never a suitcase to begin with. It was a neighbourhood with the pedestrian auntie in the lift that never failed to ask about your day, the shopkeeper at 7-11 amused by the 11:30PM purchase of multiple ice-cream tubs, the pervading noise from the neverending construction of new condos or HDBs nearby, and the occasional smell of curry chicken in the evenings. My home was the delirious, almost hazy-like weekend evenings that almost seem like a reverie. Smelling my mum’s home-cooked food while playing on the piano, the usual nagging for dinner, before the usual Sheng Siong shows and Chinese drama was the dream.
Coming back for the past 3 years meant a slow relearning what home was for me. Home had a new Downtown line and makan places, new people that I’ve sought comfort and love in, and new understandings of my loved ones. Home has never been so dear, and I almost feel that I’m left grasping at the memories that I have, but they always seem to slip out of my grasp. Going to the U.S almost feels like a one-way ticket from home, and that I’ll never feel the same about home ever again.
Part of me feels like this is growing up, and relearning home is a constant flux that I have to learn to deal with. Another part of me struggles to keep my home close – the good morning towel, army singlets and letters from friends all packed into my suitcase.
I am not ready.