When I was 20, I left for England to study. It was something I’d always wanted to do – study abroad. The idea excited me. I didn’t want to study at home. I never wanted to. And so I left.
My mother cried on the way to the bus station. She liked my new city, but she didn’t like me living here without her. I told her I’d take care of myself – that I’d make friends with good people, study hard and not skip breakfast.
During this time, I drifted from some friends. We talked less. We cared less. Sometimes I don’t think we cared at all.
One morning during English class my teacher started talking about Damilola. While I was watching videos of this poor boy who got murdered on the way home, I thought of my friends.
What if it was me?
What if it were them?
That afternoon I wrote some emails for 2 of my friends. I told them about Damilola, and about how scared I was of losing them. I told them what I’d been up to, I sent them photos of my lunch that day. I told them not to worry – I’d learnt how to cook. The girls and I were taking care of each other. I told them to take care too.
I told them I missed them.
I got an email back the next day from one of them.
I miss you too much.
I thought about this a lot – about how it was such an interesting way to say it. I told him I missed him too. We’re still dear friends today.
The night I sent the emails, I got a text from the other friend.
He asked me what a word meant. He read my letter because the word was in it. Two weeks later someone told me he’d made fun of the lunch I made.
We’re not friends anymore.
I thought of Damilola again today. And I thought about my two friends.
Change is a funny thing.
I was standing on my balcony the other day just mindlessly staring out of the window when I saw something strange. One of the trees in the park had a perfect leaf circle around it.
Weird, I thought. Probably aliens.
I stood there for awhile just looking at this tree, putting more effort into coming up with a better reasoning than just blaming it on the aliens. Could the tree just have miraculously shed its dry leaves in a perfect circle around itself? Highly unlikely. Come to think about it, there wasn’t a single dry leaf on the tree at all.
I took some photos and put it on Snapchat. The aliens are here, I wrote.
Were they really?
The other day someone asked me if I believed in aliens. It’ll be silly not to.
Honestly, it’ll be pretty stupid if you think about it in the grand scheme of things. We’re probably aliens ourselves.
Pa entertained my idea about aliens landing themselves in the middle of a heartland, only to find a bunch of leaves to tell everyone that they were here. Mom on the other hand just stood by the window and gasped quietly.
‘Children did it. It’s weird. Did you take a photo? Look, take it from here. Where did you take it from? The balcony? You can see the whole circle from here.’
It’s been a week. The circle has been rearranged after Friday’s rain swept some of the leaves away. I took another photo.
They’re still here.
What beast? What mountain?
Was I having a dream?
I know I said I was going to try writing everyday but that obviously failed…online. I’ve been writing a little in my new planner. Not much, just to fill in the extra spaces of September that I never got to use since I got the planner later than I should have.
Anyway I’m listening to a sentimental song which has me in a mood. I was just thinking about how adulthood kinda hits you like a really REALLY slow moving truck. I’ve seen it coming for awhile now but I’ve just kept walking backwards. But now the truck’s caught on and I’m just sat here, forced to comprehend how much time has flown and I’m left with goals that I haven’t achieved yet.
But have I really not achieved them? I’ve accomplished quite a bit this year. For starters I graduated from University with upper honours in one piece. I also:
2. made my art blog
3. made new friends
4. went to Seoul
5. got 2 tattoos
I guess the kick comes in when I start comparing myself to the people around me. Am I doing enough? I can’t even stick with an exercise plan for a week. How are people out there getting abs?!
Among other things of course.
Like getting their dream job. Getting married (how do people even get together with their crushes? How does the Universe work so much in your favour?!) (wow)
Again these goals I set for myself vary so much. Some I can achieve if I try. Like, exercising for a whole week without giving up. Others I can achieve if I put in the effort. Like, applying for that job I want without feeling nervous everytime I think about it. Other goals aren’t really goals. They’re really just things on my checklist I think I should accomplish in my life. Things like getting a car. Or getting married. Do I need a car? Not really. Do I need to get married? Probably not, but I’d like to.
Then again some days I just forget about these goals altogether. Things like having to exercise just become something of a habit. Like drinking water. I never used to put in the effort to stay hydrated until three weeks ago. At first it was weird having to remind myself to drink water constantly but now I practically hug my waterbottle to sleep.
Some days, the adulthood doesn’t really bother me so much. Someone thought I was still in secondary school today, so that was fantastic. Some days, like today, I just learn to live step by step.
The first time I felt patriotic was when I was in P5 and went for a compulsory National Day Parade preview with my entire cohort. There was something about sitting amongst other sweaty 11 year olds, us grabbing our funpacks and screaming the national anthem through the entire fireworks display, that made me love my country in a way I never thought I did.
On the way back home I stared out of the window at passing traffic and thought to myself that I was going to be the best Singaporean I could be. I clutched my mini flag as tight as my grubby 11 year old hands let me and made this promise to my motherland that night.
The next time I thought about Singapore so deeply was when I was 18 and pensive. I thought about Europe a lot back then, about how I wanted to leave Singapore and live in Paris for a month or two and just never come back. I took French for a semester and that was the last I thought about Paris.
When I was 20 I moved to England to study. I was happy. I was excited to leave. When I got to my dorm and started unpacking my clothes I found a mini standee flag of my motherland that my mom stuffed between my jackets. I threw it aside and in that moment the 11 year old inside of me realised that the promise I made 9 years prior never meant anything.
The next time I felt patriotic was when I was 21 and staring at a photo of my friend who locked herself out of the house. I couldn’t understand the jealousy that was stirring within me from seeing her sit along her HDB corridor and being sad about forgetting her keys. When I was 21, I had my mini standee flag right next to me, proud and tall in it’s 15 cm glory.
I realised that my 11 year old self was right that night. I was trying. Being alone in a foreign country made me think about a lot of things. I travelled across the world, leaving my heart in so many different places but saved the biggest piece for my country.
I wasn’t homesick.
I was thankful.
I still think about how I threw aside my flag that day. About how my mom must have felt when she put it in my luggage without me knowing. About how she wanted her daughter to have a little piece of home.
The last time I felt patriotic was yesterday, as I stood along the Singapore River and looked at the skyscrapers looming over me. And I thought to myself – I bloody love my country.
I figured I should introduce my blog a little. I came up with the name tutukuehs because:
- The URL I wanted was taken.
- I really like tutu kueh.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, these are tutu kuehs:
It’s a tiny steamed cake made out of glutinous rice flour and filled with brown sugar and shredded coconut. In other words: it’s delicious.
Singaporeans do this thing where they make our local foods into knick knacks. It’s amazing. Tutu kueh earrings, tutu kueh notebooks, tutu kueh erasers. I’m glad the person who started this trend exists, because I didn’t know what I was missing until I saw a tutu kueh cushion with my own eyes.
I said I was going to introduce the blog but I just really love tutu kueh. I went to the pasar malam (night market) the other day to get some but was just surrounded by iced coffee, fried oreos, fried mars bars, Thai iced tea….and no tutu kueh. It felt weird. Like a new wave pasar malam was starting to form. Needless to say when I finally found someone selling tutu kueh I almost cried a little.
And then I came home and actually wanted to cry because it wasn’t that good.
Anyway, here are some other random things I like:
- ✧ dogs ✧
- the word ‘cups’
- chicken nuggets
- making lists
- that book smell
- mustard yellow
- succulent plants
I also decided to try writing something everyday. We’ll see how that goes.
Also I bolded dogs because my love for dogs trumps tutu kueh.
This is the post excerpt.
I like how WordPress just automatically writes your first blog post for you. They even add this really nice photo of the ocean:
Then again I’ve seen this before because I’ve had a blog which is now locked up and left to rot on my dashboard. I don’t even know why I stopped writing to be honest, because I went to University for three years and all I did there was write.
Now I’m here, wondering if it’s still okay for me to write ‘Student’ whenever forms ask me for my occupation when in fact I graduated 3 months ago and am struggling to accept the fact that I need to function like an adult. And so I decided to write again, because it’s one of the things I’m good at. I think. (I’m also really good at self-doubt and being insecure which I’m sure is a hit in the real world)
The other day I sent in an application to be a volunteer writer for a dog shelter and they asked me if I had a blog. I thought to myself yeah pal I’ve got 5 but then I realised they were all locked and kept away, as if to be preserves of different phases in my life. Which one do you want? The thirsty teenage blog when I thought Adam Lambert was straight? Over here I have the angsty 17 year old, and here I have the 19 year old who wrote poems 9 times a day and finally the 21 year old who wrote 5 sentences about what I had for lunch and called it quits.
What I’m trying to say is that this is a way for my to mark a new chapter of my life. (What a fantastic metaphor). But honestly. I think this might be a good thing. Here’s to me writing more things about things. And here’s to me maybe finally getting a hang of life.