The Bittersweetness of Leaving
Time has a way of getting away from us.
It felt like a lifetime ago that I made the decision to move to the States to be with my partner.
In the blink of an eye, 5 years rushed by.
When I made the decision, it was the easiest thing to do. I was the appendix of the family after all. My parents could take care of themselves and my siblings have families of their own.
I also felt like I had to get away from the highly organized and stifling society where everyone seems single-mindedly focused on material security.
So I left and came home infrequently. This is my third time back in 5 years.
Coming home after 18 months away, I was once again struck by the strange and simultaneous feeling of familiarity and distance. I was half a stranger in a familiar place.
It’s like putting on a worn t-shirt you put away and forgot about. The shirt looked like it could’ve been someone else’s — an old version of you, perhaps — but when you put it, on your body remembers how the worn fabric clings to your boy, so soft and familiar it’s like a second skin.
Singapore felt familiar but almost foreign. I forgot how she felt on my skin and senses. But after being in her for a little, I realized my body remembers, even as my brain feels a distance.
My legs remember the directions, my skin remembers the humidity, my nose remembers the scents of the island city.
Coming back to my family, it was like nothing has changed, except everything has. Time hasn’t stopped, after all. The kids are taller, my parents are older. Everyone has something happening in their lives I no longer know about.
And I thought, was it worth it? Did I make the right decision leaving?
I’ve gained a lot moving to the States — a husband, a new family, the ability to cook. Thanks to the space I gained, I’ve been able to start ventures that sizzled and failed. As a result, I write (and crochet) better than I used to.
But looking at my family, especially at my increasingly frail parents, I wonder. Why was it so easy for me to…