I was having a video conversation with my Daddy via WhatsApp. “now I know why you have such big forearms dad”. He worked in construction when he was a teen and he still has those huge forearms to prove it.
“How’s your new workaway? Do you have your own room? What do you eat?” I answer his questions one by one, take him on a virtual tour around the house, room by room, showing him details of the old victorian house – light switches, door knobs, floor boards etc.
After 40 minutes of shallow talk, I tell him a little bit of my plan for the next 2 years. I want to travel for a while more, and be inspired so I can find something I’m passionate in, and then who knows where I’ll be or what I’ll do??
I see my dad’s face sink a little. “2 years??! No lah…. Don’t think so far yet, take it one step at a time” my dad misses me alot and the idea of me not being back in Singapore is putting him in denial that his little girl is leaving the nest for good.
Even after I got married and moved out, he still called me a few times a week, came over to pass me mail, and we would still have family dinners every week. He’s not used to having me out of the country for so long, and I can feel his heart ache, missing me. My mum misses me dearly too, but she doesn’t need me like my dad does.
“why don’t you come home and find a job? Save for a few years first and then go traveling again”
What goals do you think I have? Find a stable job I don’t like, get married (Alr did that once and still have battle scars), and have kids? (can’t even think about this right now) I don’t have goals like most singaporeans do. I don’t have needs for comfort. Maybe I did once, and 27 years in Singapore was amazing…. But plenty enough for now.
All I really want is to learn more about countries, their history, food, cultures and see how people love each other more. I don’t know how I’m going to make a living out of this. Or if I’m eventually gonna have to find work. I want to surround myself with people I don’t know, strangers I can learn from, where they’re from, what they’ve done, how growing up in entirely different countries make them who they are. And daddy, didn’t you raise me to be different, so that I could live a life full of freedom and choice?
He stayed silent for a bit… And then “ya lah… Maybe you’re right. Maybe mummy and I, like you said, are too used to the Singaporean lifestyle, we are also new to this! What you’re trying to do……okay la we meet you in Lombok ya, then we can explore the island together for a month”
At this point, I couldn’t tahan some tears welling up in my eyes. I’m so blessed I have parents like these. My mum said “if I had your life, devoid of burdens, I would fly free too. Fly free, my princess”
My parents have sometimes day dreamed of leaving Singapore to explore the world too. Back in the day, while couples went on one week honeymoons, my mum quit her job so they could go for a one month holiday around Europe. They were poor with little money so to save cost, they would pack food in biscuit tins and eat bread with ham and cheese instead of dining in fancy Parisian restaurants. They would sit on benches in parks, by fountains, have picnics on the beaches, and share sandwiches. Now that they have more spending power, they splurge little on material things but more on experiences – sky diving in Africa, diving in sipadan, hiking in China.
The reason they never left for good was because they want to look after my grandparents who are in their 80s and who looked after my brother and me when we were young. I share their sentiment and understand why they can’t just uproot their lives and move to a villa in Bali to retire instead.
My parents have given me this luxury of living life in this unfashionable manner. And yet I’ve spent the last 3 weeks wondering if I’m a good for nothing. I’ve beaten myself up daily, pushing myself to find a purpose and a calling. I’ve been asking myself again and again, what do you want in life???
But yet all my parents want for me, is to be happy and free. I want to remind myself this life I’m living is an adventure!! and that I should enjoy it for as long as it lasts. One day, I believe, I’ll come to realize what all these experiences can culminate to. And I want to pen down these thoughts to remember the journey. Be present Jane!! Why can’t you quit planning ahead and just be present?! Can you be a little less kiasu?!