terse & at large

GRRRRR. Arrrgh. And sometimes a travel log.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Parable

It takes a man thirty minutes to walk out to get a half-decent cup of teh tarik, but only $4.50 to go back to where he started from.



I stepped out of the flat (too quiet, and there're only so many DVDs I can go through and Murakami I can read) late tonight to take stock of what's happened in my life since I quit teaching. I know this for sure: I don't regret having done it. The mater may have freaked at the pay I was giving up 'to do my own thing,' but I haven't. Not even when pickings were lean the first year. And they still are.

The trips to Meulaboh and Nias only strengthened my resolve on the matter. Not richer in material things, but certainly richer in spirit.

I've had a lot more 'me' time in the past two years, for sure, though I haven't always taken advantage of that. So tonight, I thought I'd do something different. Was alone again, and there wasn't anything good on television, not that there have been a lot of good programming these days. Plus, I don't have an exercise regime to keep me occupied for most of the week; not that that would be helpful, especially with a bum knee(s? The one without the history of injury seems to have finally decided it wasn't going to keep taking up the slack of the other) and the excessive smoking.

I got a new pack of Reds from the Cheers near the MRT station and lit one just under the tracks. I wasn't sure what I was going to be mulling over and it took the whole cigarette and the walk to my parents' to start my thought processes going. It's been a while since I'd done anything like this; the last time would have been on 16 December 1996, just before I decided I was going to quit advertising. I went for a run that night, from the parents' place to Katong, via Geylang Serai and Haig Road, then down East Coast Road before taking the canal route and back.

It's been a while, yes. Now, I'd be happy if I ran to the Cheers without stopping more than once.

1996 was also when I stopped having close friends I could go to at the drop of a dime. The people I'd known before I left for Canada were becoming alien to me - a natural drifting apart because I'd stopped attending church (and become 'the fallen one', in the words of one of them). The people I knew from Canada were getting themselves established in their chosen professions. And my friends from NS days and before, I'd long lost touch with. Even then, there wasn't a lot I would reveal to them; I had their numbers keyed into my cellphone for a while, but they've all since been deleted.

Not that I'd needed people to go to to hear me whine. In Canada, all I needed to do was to take the bike or the car (if I needed to go further) out and hit the road for days on end. Not so possible in Singapore. There's nowhere I can go to put my troubles behind me for a while. No hockey games to beat someone up with impunity with, or to feel someone's fists on the back of my head for that matter.

So, year by year, the support base eroded for me. My best friend's busy raising his daughter. My best female friend's getting married later this year, but I've lost her number when my mobile went missing; we haven't seen each other since 2002, so it doesn't really matter.

I go out with my ex-colleagues and I hear the incessant whining about teaching and kids; the people I hang out with nowadays, I don't know enough for me to feel comfortable baring my soul; and the folks at home, whom I don't go to anyway, on pain of death, are too busy with seeing Southeast Asia, one port of call at a time.

And suddenly, Singapore, 'home', seems a lonely place to be. Funny how I'd always thought I've long grown past the age of angst.

My walk took me to Still Road. The teh tarik wasn't as gratifying as it ought to be. The weather, even at that time, was its usual oppressive self.

Strangely, only the knees did not protest the sudden activity.

If I was hoping for an epiphany tonight, it didn't happen. I wanted to go on walking, but the ciggies and tea made me a little light-headed, and I aborted the attempt to recreate my route from 1996. I flag a cab mere metres from the coffee shop and wearily tell the cabbie to take me back. The blast from the airconditioning'd perked me up a bit, but it wasn't enough.

Where is this post going? I have abso-fuckin'-lutely no idea.

And now, I feel a bug coming.

On the other hand, I now have a few ideas for new projects. But we'll see how far those pan out.

3 Comments:

  • At 8:58 AM, May 17, 2005, Blogger  said…

    Murakami - yeah!

     
  • At 10:27 AM, May 17, 2005, Blogger Kiv said…

    hey, I'm guessing I'm not the first to say this to u...but ur giving up the huge paycheck to do what u like is to me admirable. Something I can only dream of doing. Well, hopefully one fine day I'll take the leap forward.

     
  • At 5:01 PM, May 17, 2005, Blogger Terz said…

    Yeah, but admiration doesn't pay the bills...

     

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