When we moved to Singapore in 2005, I must have cried every day for what feels like months. We moved into a house that my dads predecessor had lived in with his kids, and I remember my parents reassuring me that those kids had felt the exact same sadness when they moved to Singapore, but ended up crying even more when they had to leave. At 7 years old, this seemed beyond ridiculous to me- I hated Singapore. I wanted my old friends and my grandparents and I most definitely was not on board with the obscene amount of mosquitos. Obviously, it didn’t take me long to realise that they were of course, exactly right, and now at the age of 20 I can’t believe it’s finally time for me to say goodbye (for now). After threatening to do so for the last 14 years, my family have decided that it’s time we move back to our original family home in the UK.
*Full disclosure, this will be cringey and nostalgic*
I might not have ticked off everything on my Singapore bucket list (I never did get to visit Rabbit HQ and see the largest bunny in Singapore), but there are so many amazing things I got to do whilst I was there that were totally irreplaceable. The friends I met during my time there I know will be my friends forever- we survived 30 days in hostels and on trains together, we can survive anything! Together, we fumbled over teenage relationships, drank tequila for the first time and held each others hands through our first eyebrow threadings and I can’t wait to watch some of the incompetent freaks I call my best friends do amazing things with their lives.
Singapore is also where, after years of trying to shoe-horn my physically incompetent body into every sport under the sun, my dad finally found a fit for me in Touch Rugby. I still haven’t really learned to run like a normal human yet, but touch was where I met one of my absolute forever best friends (who now plays for England- I know, I feel inept next to her too). Singapore was where I learned to love running around on a sweaty pitch (not least because it was a guaranteed way of securing some nice, long lasting colour, albeit with some slightly odd tanlines) Touch also gave me the opportunity to travel to places like Malaysia, Thailand and Australia to play against other schools and teams, and I just don’t see me ever being able to have done this had I not lived out there.
I might have spent over a decade in Asia without learning to like rice, but I will miss the food more than anything. The Sunday night tradition of a meal at the Colbar, Singapore’s famed no-nonsense colonial Kampong cafe- or Lau Pa Sat hawker will have to be replaced with Fish and Chips takeaways or Deliveroo, or somewhere new to love. And oh my GOD I will miss Din Tai Fung- never will I ever take xiaolongbao of dou miao for granted again.
All in all, I count my blessings every day that I have had this opportunity, and can’t thank my parents enough for being brave enough to uproot our lives and start fresh out there. If we hadn’t moved out there, I never would have met my best friends, I never would have camped on the Ganges, I never would have learnt have the things I know now.(I also never would have been able to use “I live in Singapore” as my ‘fun fact’ in every single new seminar at Uni).It is a lot more than an interesting conversation starter though, it’s a big fat part of me that will be there forever. There might not be any New Years Eve yacht celebrations for a while but I think I’ll be ok.
Saying goodbye to our house, our home for the last decade and a half, is one of the saddest parts. This is the house where a friend in junior school climbed onto our attap roof in the middle of hide and seek, the house where my dad sliced his foot open at his birthday barbecue, where my puppy was born, where my sister learnt to swim, where I turned 18, where I cried when I got into university (just!)- where I did 14 years of growing up.
Having said all this, and although I will miss Singapore beyond words, I now can’t wait to return to the home where I first met my little sister, where I said goodbye to my Grandad, where I took my first steps and said my first word, where I lost my first tooth, where I slammed my fingers in the back door and where I finally stopped sucking my thumb. New beginnings, here we go!