A couple of weeks ago, wifey and I went on a trip to Australia for a friend’s wedding. I took the chance to catch up with a lot of old friends, many of whom I haven’t seen in 4 or more years, and it was quite an amazing experience.
I don’t know about you guys, but I often get so caught in the hustle and bustle of working and the day-to-day repetition of work-rest-work-play that it’s pretty easy for me to imagine that I’m actually some kind of robot or machine. Life gets so weary, that if you told me that I’m not real, and that any memories I have are actually manufactured and implanted into my mind to keep me subservient, I could probably accept that (after stabbing myself in the arm to see if I’ll bleed or not).
It doesn’t help that I live in Singapore now… though I was born here, I don’t have many strong childhood memories nor do I have friends whom I’ve known for more than a few years – the life I have now is one that I’ve only recently made for myself after moving back about 8 years ago.
I envy the wifey when she hangs out with her friends from primary school, and they’ll talk about all the things they did when they were like, I dunno, 9 years old or something. Not only that, she’ll share with me some places of interest, like places that she’d play at when she was young, a small park where she’d try to catch butterflies in a plastic bag, etc.
I just don’t feel that sort of deep-rooted connection with this city. Furthermore, what childhood memories I do have exist purely in my head and I have no real way of confirming nor denying these things really happened.
Which is why meeting up with old friends in Australia was such an amazing and uplifting experience for me. Here, the memories aren’t just my own – they’re shared with really real friends who not only remember the same things that I do, but can also share stories of experiences that have slipped my mind. Things like the people we knew in high school, that girl that I had a major crush on who claimed to be a vampire (true story!), and the embarrassingly geeky games that we played like Dungeons & Dragons and Battletech.
I even had the chance to revisit my old grade school, and the dreaded Stairs of Abandonment (more about this in a later post).
Yes, I had a childhood! I really did exist!
Catching up with friends like this might seem trivial to most of you, but for a guy like me who constantly feels displaced, it’s an amazing feeling. It was also great that I got to share this with the wifey, and prove to her that I’m not a cyborg assassin that stepped out of the factory about a few months before we first met. It’s like “See, wifey? I really did come from somewhere!”
I know I sound really unhappy and all, but I’m not. I don’t believe that “home” is a concept that’s linked to a geographical location, because I think “home” is where your loved ones are. So for me, home is where the wifey is, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
But if you’re starting to really feel weary about life and you find yourself often wondering what you’re doing with your life and who you are, then go and catch up with some old friends. They’ll definitely be able to remind you who you are, who you were, and maybe even remind you of who you wanted to be at a time when you still felt really strongly about such things.
Coincidentally, a good friend of mine has just released a children’s picture book called Home, about a skateboarding panda looking for a place to call home. Sounds random, but it deals with really similar themes to what I was feeling – with a panda twist.
So yeah, click here for more info about Panda, including details on how to order a copy online if you’d like one for the kids, or if you’re a kindergarten teacher, or if you just inexplicably really want to read a picture book with a skateboarding panda in it.