I stepped off the plane exactly a year ago. One year in Singapore, in the heat and sweat and shininess and grime. I’d arrived clammy and sore from a long flight. Sitting in the cramped cabin, I had choked on tears and anxiety until I could feel the panic rising in my throat, my vision obscuring, my head swimming, my body cold and sweaty. I’d locked myself in the tiny toilet, my head between my legs, breathing slowly and trying to remember that I had asked for this, that this is what I wanted. I can’t remember much of that day. I walked broken hearted on the unfamiliar streets, amongst the walk-ups of Tiong Bahru, letting the warm air and tropical scents calm and soothe me.
I’ve spent the day sorting through my belongings, and packing them, again, in cardboard boxes. The motions are so rehearsed, the sight so familiar. 32 years, 4 continents, 9 countries, soon 10, countless moves, countless boxes, countless friends made and lost along the way. There are books that smell of long, dusty summers, old creaky toys, notebooks and papers capturing a fleeting moment fading, still, always. The rest is superfluous: mountains of shoes and clothes, cosmetics by the buckets, bits of string and cables, shapeless things that have no name and no function.
It is exhausting, this business of moving, of shifting your way slowly, uncertainly, towards a new place, a new - maybe - home. My bones are tired and stiff. I’ve spent much of today thinking about the sparkly Miu Miu shoes I’ve been gawping at every night on my way back from work. They are so perfect, so pretty. Soft pink suede and silver glitter, shoes to be worn in high summer when the sun shines, the grasses are tall, and you’re in love and everything is good and right with the world. I’ve been shoving my meagre memories in brown cardboard boxes, and maddeningly, infuriatingly, longing for a pair of sparkly shoes.