“Your opponents would love you to believe that it’s hopeless, that you have no power, that there’s no reason to act, that you can’t win. Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender, a power you don’t have to throw away.”
― Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
“Sometimes people say the Singaporeans aren’t too expressive,” said Kuo Jian Hong, the artistic director of The Theater Practice, an influential theater founded by her father, the pioneering playwright and arts activist Kuo Pao Kun. “I feel this is partly because so many of us lost our mother tongue.”
I thought of London tonight, and suddenly my heart was seized with a sharp grief.
I ached for the place like how I had pined for lovers lost – I miss the person I was when I was moulded by the city, when I was nobody’s but my own person, when I felt like life greeted me on every corner with an infinite openness. I was in love with life then, drunk on the sense of possibility, teetering on the edge of reckless abandon.
Seattle reminded me of that. The buzz on the streets, the hills, the dinner at the Space Needle with Carla and her beautiful green hair, drinking wine and stumbling around late into the night. I sat by myself in the sun with coffee and food from the salad line at the grocery store, thinking about happiness, feeling content and full.I can’t say I dislike this city because the people make me who I am and they make me whole. But every time I take off and leave I feel like I am shedding more and more of the facade I put on to survive….it feels like a relief to be able to take that burden off.
Everything about you, Hackney. I miss you so much. I miss even being sad in your arms, even the days when I was shivering in the winter frost, sobbing on the Underground and all the way down Chatsworth Road to Landmark Heights.
I found an old photo of myself from 2013, when I was 21 and living in Santa Barbara.
I had finished my year of study abroad and it was June, when we were waiting to go home for the summer, before I started my internship in Singapore. I traveled to live and work on a farm in Indio, California, with my British housemate, Bex, where we swam in hot springs, climbed mountains and read about Into the Wild.
We got that red mug together when you came to visit for the first time, before we went on the road for three weeks. It’s good for drinking copious amounts of tea in the frigid winter, you said. I brought it back with me to Singapore and it now hangs in the kitchen, by the window. I last used it when I came home after work last week – hungry and in need of hot soup.
“You look like someone who can protect yourself,” he told me.
“I feel like I can’t settle for this life anymore,” she said.
Two lines that stuck. July’s a strange month. You’re going to overwrite yourself at the end of this month, she said.
Back with that strange drifty sense of assurance this morning again – like I was seven years old again, waking up to the June holidays and feeling like the world was full of promises. I don’t want this careful optimism to end : I have realised there are bigger and more important things in life, and that I want some things to work out for myself.
Wandering past and into the Capitol Building yesterday evening, doubling into the Substation on Armenian Street. I’ve been waking up to paddle-pop skies and quiet mornings in the newsroom, feeling strangely divorced from the crushing routines of everyday life. I, too, will like to be part of that buzzy crowd at the bars of Capitol, the people rushing through the Raffles City basement for dinner dates. I’m upbeat about the ongoing programme at Substation and am itching to work together with people from various disciplines, to question and make things and put together all the things that have been brimming up inside my head.