One of the things I miss most about Singapore, is being able to cycle around the neighbourhood, feeling the cool breeze and enjoying the peace of the night.
On my way home just now, taking a detour to take in more of the neighbourhood sounded like a good idea, and before I knew it, I was back at my old block. So many memories. Of learning to cycle at the void deck. Playing catching after taekwondo class at the nearby block. Pushing through the bushes underneath the overhead bridge, and imagining it to be a secret base of ours. Snacks from the Indian mama shop right behind. The countless times of cycling around the place, every turn and slope was deeply ingrained; I was operating on instincts.
I smiled when I got to this cycling path that used to be a really steep slope (but has been revamped into a gentle one now), because a certain daredevil (or brainless idiot, depending on how you look at it) at the invincible age of 11, decided it would be an absolutely brilliant feat to cycle down that precarious slope at top speed – without hands. Needless to say, I ended up losing control and sprawled in a heap on the floor, fortunately getting out easy with only a scraped knee.
This was home for almost fifteen years, and I still miss it.
Onwards, to the place that held so many cherished memories amidst mindless drudgery: Ngee Ann Secondary School. It’s funny how a building can evoke an aching, almost painful yearning in the heart for days that are long past. The basketball court that I spent countless hours at, rain or shine. Walking down the same old path to school five, six days a week. Frantic copying of homework before morning assembly. Magic: The Gathering sessions in the canteen. Spraining my wrist on the same damn court because I tripped on the edge of the court (idiot.)
Remembering the days back then. Swimming training was three days a week, Red Cross took Saturdays away. Between those two ECAs, school and homework, the days just whizzed by. The best part was probably the Swim Camps, when all of us had so much fun. The endless blackjack sessions. The morning training. The insomnia. The barbeque sessions. The Emil Chau songs. The night walk to Changi Airport. The performances. The nights when we would sneak out of school and grab a bite (and Jolly Shandy) at Tampines Mart.
To this day, I still kick myself for some of the juvenile, tactless and supremely stupid things from back then, but the fondness of fun times outweigh the dumb moments of course. If only, there was some way I could revisit some of those days.
If you haven’t noticed, I’m a nostalgic who reminiscences about past days too much. There are just too many memories for me here to ever move away from the place. I’m pretty sure if I’d continued to stay in Singapore, I would’ve eventually just gotten a place right here, rather than follow the inevitable trend of moving to Sengkang/Punggol, as many of my generation have done. Then again, we’ll never know, since it hasn’t happened. It sounds like an fascinating alternate reality though.
While many people would label me as a planner, it is interesting to note that my personality actually swings in the other direction. Over the years, I’ve led my life largely on faith and trusted my instincts, going by what I felt was right, much more than pragmatic decision-making like weighing the scales, noting the facts and numbers and coming up with a practical decision.
For example, what kind of flaming idiot would actually quit his job, get a loan, leave the comforts of a wonderfully familiar environment behind and fly to Australia, having only the “plan” (if you could even call it that) to finish a final university semester and then literally wing it and find some way to stay on, simply because it “felt like the right time” to do so? Utterly un-Singaporean-like, if I might say so.
Or for that matter, quitting a stable full-time job to be a domestic dad for nine months? I’m glad V has been supportive on (most of) my decisions, although you could imagine the kind of grousing that went on in her head.
Looking back now, I’m really glad everything worked out, but had I actually paused to contemplate the enormity of that decision to move to Australia back then, it would have probably made next to zero sense. Could it possibly have stopped me in my tracks though? Nah.
Fortune favours the bold, and I like to think it looks kindly on lucky fools like me as well. There’s good, and there’s lucky; I’d pick lucky over good any day. I’ve always been a firm believer in the fact that destiny has its plan for me, and that I am walking in the forest of life, sauntering along a path that has been waiting for me all along, and is revealing itself to me, a few steps at a time. All I have to do, is to trust myself and pick the right trail when the crossroads come along.
Keep walking, keep trusting. Happy New Year’s Eve, 2013.