We are visiting Boston for the first time in 16 months this December. It is the longest time we’ve gone without going home since moving to Singapore. We did get back to the US last Nov/December, but it was Vegas and LA and not the East Coast.
When we first moved to Singapore, there was a visit home about six months into our journey in Singapore and I was desperately eager to go back to the Boston. I missed everything keenly, and I just wanted to be somewhere I understood the rules of how to go about my day to day life. Where people drove on the right (in both sense of the word) side of the road. Where I knew how to banter with a cashier. Where I didn’t keep getting lost.
Three and a half years into our life in Singapore, I’m no longer so out of step. Don’t ask me to find my way to or around Yishun or Tampines (beyond getting to IKEA) without google maps and navigation, but I know “my” part of Singapore fairly well. Driving on the left side of the road feels more natural to me now than the right because I’ve spent the majority of the last year and a half driving on the left side of the road. While there are things I’m eager to buy or eat that I can’t get here, it wouldn’t be a crisis if I didn’t get the chance to do so.
What I am most looking forward to during this trip home is seeing friends in person. Of course I keep up with them on Facebook (I’m so grateful for Facebook-living in Singapore would be so much harder without it). I skype with them (when I don’t forget the skype date, or we don’t screw up the time difference). We chat on facebook messenger, whatsapp, and the occasional phone text. I talk with them on the phone.
It’s not the same as being able to see them in person. To give or get a hug. To spontaneously make plans-plans are usually made in advance for things like skype. Seeing their kids in person instead of in a photo.
Obviously I do have friends here, but these are friends I’ve known for a decade or more in most cases. It is so wonderful to think of seeing them again in person.
The other big source of excitement is that I’ll be taking Elanor to New York for a weekend. She’ll see her first Broadway shows-Cinderella, and at her request (instead of Annie) Phantom of the Opera. We have watched the 25th anniversary performance on netflix countless times at this point, and she wears her phantom t-shirt nightgown and sings along to the soundtrack. She’s so thrilled at the idea of seeing it in person. I’m excited at the idea of taking her to the Museum of Natural History to see the dinosaur bones, ice skating at Rockefeller Center, watching her on the big piano at FAO schwartz and introducing her to one of my favorite cities in the world. She has been twice before, but as a baby and a 14 month old-not old enough to remember or to find much of anything terribly interesting. This will be a trip she is old enough to remember.
It’s actually pretty surreal to me at the moment. I know we’re going, and we’re making plans and such, but the idea that in two months I’ll be in Boston (home) and not Singapore (also home) isn’t real to me yet. It won’t be real to me until we get off the plane in the US and I am surrounded by people who share my accent, I see the familiar skyline, and I’m hugging friends and family.
When I’m in Boston, my life in Singapore will feel not just distant in terms of miles, but figuratively as well. I’ll quickly switch back to the right side of the road, drive to the Natick Mall without consulting a map, and wind my way through a familiar Target with a friend at my side.
Until I’m home, though, I’ll count the weeks—when I remember to. Right now I’ve got birthday parties, end of year concerts and a thousand other details keeping me in the present and in Singapore.