Archive | May, 2014

Of Packing and Homes.

15 May

Since my last post on Boston, I’ve been wanting to give equal attention to New York and Montreal. However, in a mad rush of things, upon my arrival back to Vancouver, I’ve been caught up with packing.

Packing, of itself, may seem like a simple process of shoving things into boxes. However, friends who’ve observed me packing for Germany can be my witness, I have a tendency to pack and label my boxes accordingly. To make matter more complicated, this time, I have additional factors on my list as I separate my stuff into categories.

These categories include:

1. Stuff that I’m leaving in Singapore for my sister who starts her first-year experience in UBC in September

2. Stuff that I’m packing to bring with me to Japan

3. Stuff that I’m bringing back to Singapore

4. Stuff that I’m bringing back to Singapore to be shipped to Japan, via air or a visiting friend, at a later date

Some find packing a calming and luxurious activity.

Personally, I often find myself getting sentimental and teary-eyed. These events could be triggered, maybe by  an old t-shirt that I got at a youth camp some 10 years ago. Or by a bus ticket which I received when I met the nicest bus driver ever in Vancouver. Or by nail polishes that a past student gave to me when she returned to Korea…

Today, I rummaged through cards and letters – if you want to test the prowess of your tears, this is a sure winner.


These letters date back to as early as 2008.

As I paged through each envelope; some beautifully decorated, some humourous, with others bordering on offensive (like ‘aunty joy’ :p), it was as if I was swept through a myriad of memories, reliving key moments in my life, all in the mere hour or so it took to read through everything.

These memories made up what once was my home. Some would argue that it still is.

Regularly I’ve contemplated the idea of a ‘home’. I have written earlier posts about it, and have come up with the conclusion that home is wherever I am. In other words, I make the effort to create a home at each geographical location I am placed in by building up relationships, exploring places, partaking of food and experiences with others, thereby creating new memories.

Idealistic, maybe, but it is the only way I can reconcile the fact that I’ve moved so many times, am still on the move, and will probably continue to be ever-moving for a long while more.

If I really take the time to think about things (especially now that I can afford that time, with the lack of impending responsibilities and what-not), deep inside I’m conflicted between wanting to explore life, going on adventure after adventure, and wanting stability.

As I close the chapter of my life as a student at UBC and move to the next chapter, I can’t help but wonder if I will ever return to Singapore. This question, an honest question, eventually leads me to the conclusion that as I continue to put my trust and faith in a good God who’s plans are higher than mine, it is there that I will find stability.

Stability will be found no where else, not in a location, not in a person, and not even in a pug (sadly).

As of now, I am excited for the next immediate plans of working and living in Japan. When that chapter comes to an end, I will be looking forward to the next.

Maybe it will call for me to be in Singapore, maybe it won’t.

Each letter, reminds me of a person, which reminds me of an experience or experiences, which reminds me of my time in Singapore. Though I don’t see myself returning for good any time soon, and though I can sometimes feel anxious about the day that I might or might not return to SG for good, I know that the time I spent in Singapore, both the good and the bad, the relationships and the experiences, all remind me of God’s goodness and grace (:

In a not too far-off future, I look forward to a day, similar to today’s, where surrounded by boxes, I’d find myself sitting in a mess of cards and letters from those in Singapore and those in Vancouver, and I’d once again reminisce the goodness and grace of the One whose plans are beyond my wildest dreams or imagination.



Colour in Grey

2 May

The sun’s rays lit up the vast greenery of the park by the water that we were following. We now found ourselves walking across a bridge, as we reoriented ourselves, trying to find our way to the university campuses (MIT and Harvard).

 “Do you think Boston will have job opportunities for writers?”  I ask.

 “Oh, definitely. You go on the sub and every bloody person has a book.”

 Excuse the expletive, but that sentence is an embodiment of the friend whom I had that short conversation with. (*cough* Elliot *cough*)

Before the memories become stale, I’d like to remind myself of why Boston had and will continue to have a lasting impression on me.

Character; such a seemingly pretentious way to describe a city. After all, character belongs to animate objects like humans and animals, not concrete, immovable objects like buildings and pavements. Yet, I think that the word perfectly describes my impression of Boston.

It’s ironic to me that a city full of concrete and bricks can be so pretty. You would that that all the grey would eventually cause a depressing onset of grey feelings. On the first day, I was simply amazed at how different Boston was from Vancouver. On the second day, I started to notice little things that gave Boston its ‘character’.

On the whole, buildings and streets in Boston would be a solid colour of grey or brick etc. However, in the midst of all that, there would be a little surprise of colour where you’d least expect it.

On fire hydrants, in parkades, on the walls, at random spots on the street…



The people were incredibly conversational. Of course, this a generalization based on the limited interaction we had with the locals.

There was the store manager in the U.S.S Constitution museum who in a short span of 10 minutes told as about the history behind a certain kind of native art, the architecture of the building and the museum, as well as the writers’ club in Boston where Lewis Carroll first read his ‘Christmas Carol’ out aloud to his fellow writers over punch.

There was the lady who stopped to help us as we ventured into the city on the first night. Despite the rain, she put her bag down and took out her reading glasses to point out the route we should take, on our pathetic thing of a map. She commented on how the easiest way to get there would not take us through the scenic route.

There were the nameless, faceless people, who I will never recognize if I saw them again, who helped us when we didn’t know how to buy the transit tickets to board the train, or when we weren’t sure where we were walking toward.

These splashes of unexpected colour, through buildings and monuments, as well as people and animals, leave me feeling bittersweet about my time in Boston.