When we discussed this opportunity to spend two years living in Singapore, when we consulted our good old fashioned pro/con lists, when I said yes, trying to choose the “bigger life” and go beyond my comfort zone, I couldn’t do it without contemplating the things that I’d miss.
Because going somewhere new inevitably means you’re leaving somewhere old, and for me that meant leaving nearly everyone I knew and loved. On the spectrum of loving, I trend towards the effusive end and there are no shortage of people who I can picture in my mind’s eye and feel my heart wince.
I made myself mentally list the obvious things I’d hate to miss – from the traditions and occasions that let me connect with those I love, like the annual Girls Running Club race and how last year’s combination of new and old students, family, and friends made the day a pinnacle of perfection, I thought of the Class of 2020 graduating from high school and me not being able to scream their names, names that I’ve been holding near in my heart for eight plus years of coaching and teaching and loving. I thought of the time we’d miss at the family beach house, the lost chance for Harper to grow up alongside my youngest niece in their largely communal first year.
I knew there’d also be occasions I could never predict, and as predicted, this has begun to be true. This past weekend it felt like my heart was attempting to fly away from my body as one of the dearest people to me celebrated a life milestone without me by their side. And there are the more ordinary occasions that mark the forward progress of life – the unfolding pregnancies of people who supported me through mine, the hugs I desperately want to give upon hearing of an engagement, a college acceptance, or a professional win.
Social media lets me channel some of this energy into comments and likes and story replies. If I’m literally the only one who regularly responds to what you post, I hope you’re not sick of me yet. As much as I fundamentally don’t understand the trend towards watching and consuming without interacting, it’s probably intensified by the fact that right now I can’t have the other daily touch points that nurture relationships. I’m just utilizing the heck out of the one I have.
I more or less can put my phone away every day from 11am till bedtime, as the world back home is largely sleeping. The occasional former student pulling an all-nighter at college or a logistical text on the WhatsApp groups that run things on this side of the world notwithstanding, the internet goes kind of quiet and it lets me be extra present in the momentary and ordinary of each day.
But as I explore this extraordinary place, I do wish daily that I could share it with the people I miss, which is why I’m especially excited for our second set of visitors to arrive, my mom and my aunt, later this week. It will be a mix of embracing being a tourist in our temporary home and just enjoying the ambiance of a fuller house for the next two weeks.
And as future visitors are beginning to book plane tickets, whenever I feel homesick, there doesn’t seem to be a better way to mark the passing of these two years than by looking forward to the next set of familiar faces who will make the long trip to Changi airport. So if you’re considering a trip, we’d love to see you. And even if that’s not in the cards, do know that while I may only be seeing you through the highlight reel of social media, I am keeping the real you – complex, multifaceted, with good and bad moments each and every day, in my heart and on my mind even from far away.