This is a piece of autobiographical fiction. Space and time have been rearranged to suit the convenience of the book, and with the exception of public figures, any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental. The opinions expressed are those of the characters and should not be confused with the author’s.
This story is written as an example to anyone who wants to believe that we are more than the patriarchy deems us to be, more than our limitations, and more than our fears.
19th February 2020
I’m at the airport waiting to leave Boise for Berlin.
Compared to the last time I left Boise, this time I’m actually really happy to leave.
The last time, I remember transiting in Salt Lake City before the next flight would take me to Mexico City. Salt Lake City was where Gideon and I got engaged and so all I could do in those 3 hours was sit in a corner of the airport and play “Sudoku”. In that moment, while I was sulking, a new friend messaged me. He was someone I had matched with on Bumble, back when I was newly single after D-day. We never met up of course, but for some reason, we got along well and continued messaging each other.
Later on, he would share that he too had come out of an engagement. His fiancee had left their relationship to be with someone else. So he knew my pain.
Even though we weren’t going to go on a date anytime soon, E could sense that I needed someone to talk to. So he stayed with me on the phone and we messaged for about an hour before he went to bed, later than his usual bedtime in Singapore.
I think about such times in my life and I can’t help but feel that they were my guardian angels. Each of them appearing at different times in my life when I most needed someone. I didn’t want to burden my family or friends and I had no money to afford therapy. I had given all of my money to paying our debts and whatever I had on me was given to me as a red-packet by my parents before I left. They knew that I was going on a journey to heal myself and they wanted to help pay for some of it.
I arrived in Berlin and lugged my big suitcase around, looking for my friend’s apartment.
I had met these two friends in Puerto Escondido where we stayed in the same hostel. They were volunteers there – volunteering in Mexico meant that you would exchange 25/30 hours of work a week in exchange for free accommodation and breakfast. Even though accommodation wasn’t expensive in the hostel ($8 sgd per night) it still helped to save expenses by a good amount, especially if you’re staying there for 4 months. The work would include doing reception work, laundry, cleaning duties and organizing events for guests. Once their work was done, they would then spend the rest of the day surfing, sun bathing, playing volleyball or whatever they wanted.
S and JS both lived in Berlin and while S remained in Mexico, JS came back to Berlin around the same time I had decided to visit Europe. After Mexico, I had fallen in love with slow traveling. Now, without a husband and a job waiting in Singapore, I was free. Free to go wherever and do whatever. Off to Europe it was.
My 2nd night out in Berlin, JS brings me out to a club.
It was where everyone went to feel happy.
I had never been to anywhere like this before. It was a huge building with different floors, different rooms and each room was themed differently. Each room had its own vibe, its own music genre.
Everyone was just doing their own thing – no one cared about what you were doing. No one cared if you were watching them do their thing. There was no judgment. No “bottle service”. No VIP treatment. It was so different compared to the clubbing scene in Singapore.
Singapore’s clubbing scene was really more of a chance for people to show off their wealth anyway. In my many years of clubbing in Singapore, I can truly say that 70% of people went to hook up with people, show off their wealth, and only 30% of us really went just to dance.
Here, it was 0% judgment and 100% no fucks given. Everyone was responsible for having their own fun. Everyone showed love to each other.
Man…..I wish I’d come to Berlin earlier.
This electric energy…..it was so amazing, so pure.
I saw a middle aged man wearing fish net stocking, thigh high pink boots and a sailor’s cap. He was topless and had two bands on his wrists to absorb his sweat so that he could shake people’s hands without grossing them out. He had come with another friend who sat next to me. This other guy wore a t-shirt, jeans and looked like he works for Micron or something.
When it came for the time where everyone was happy, the two of them started dancing like there was no tomorrow. They each had their own way of movement, but they vibed so hard with each other, with other people, on their own. I couldn’t help but watch and be mesmerized with their spirits being set free. They danced to express. They danced to connect. They danced to celebrate life. They danced because they wanted. They danced because they could.
Later on, I would learn that the guy with pink boots is actually a mathematics professor and the ‘Micron’ guy is a chef in a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Never. Never. Never judge a book by its cover.
What’s the use of judgment anyway? When we judge others, we are inviting judgment onto ourselves.
If we don’t wish for others to judge us, shouldn’t we begin by re-conditioning our minds not to judge anyone first?
But they did it first.
And now you can stop it first.
We are all responsible for our actions. Don’t point fingers. Let them go on their journeys of self-reflection and self-love. Just focus on YOU.
This is a reminder I tell myself all the time.
It’s hard to resize leather when it’s already cold, but add a little warmth or lubricant and you’ll see how malleable leather can get.
It’s not easy to change our old ways but it’s definitely possible. It all starts with an intention.