Apparently, it’s summer here. That’s what they tell me, at least. The weather rolls day in and day out, a steady low 30-degrees1mid to high 80s in Fahrenheit, US folks. Some days, like yesterday, it rains, a glorious cool moment that glistens the thirsty ground for about 12 hours or so before the earth, like all of us here, guzzle down the water to parts unseen.
Unlike summer in Oregon where the weather unequivocally announces the official start of summer on July 5th2Though, this year, I don’t know. Global warming for sure., or California where the winter bleeds into spring/summer like a slow motion morph, there is no meteorological delimitation here. Rather, the seasons are marked by the shift in attitudes, patterns and discussions.
The first thing I noticed, albeit slowly, since I am not a father myself, is the number of children present during the day. Of course, because school is on holiday now. Beverly was telling me that here they only get one month for summer vacation – the horror – and that month must, I suppose fall mid June to July. I notice as well the increase in expat dads walking around – a surprisingly remarkable feeling in that I am not the only “trailing husband” in these parts, despite the fact that I meet weekly with a group of guys in similar situations.
The other change is that nobody seems to be in town; people have moved away, back home or to their next assignments, timed with the end of the school year, mostly. A lot of people I’ve met are back in the US, or in Europe, visiting with friends and family alike. This knowledge sometimes pricks me, like a pin, when I am feeling the pangs of homesickness. I find myself daydreaming, fantasizing, really, of all the things I want to do when we get our chance to come visit. Beverly has admitted to the same – her desire, to do a run in Napa. Mine? To take a road trip up to Portland in my Mini and party with my friends there3Happy July 1st, y’all!. Dinner and drinks with family, or maybe sitting by the lake in 90-degree weather435 Celsius, rest of the world! and reveling in 30% humidity.
Or maybe, just maybe, make up for lost beer and time a trip with the Oregon Beer Festival. Simple dreams, really.
Flying home from Malaysia had the curious feeling described within this very sentence. We were, for the first time together, flying home to Singapore. We both agreed that it doesn’t quite feel like home yet, which lends itself to a curious feeling of homelessness. But that’s not the right word. Homelessness doesn’t look like a luxury condo in a city like this. I revile at our use of the word and immediately sought out a better one. I’ve settled on “temporary,” but that might just be wild hope running savage through my mind. A better word might be “unattached” – our apartment is nice, quite nice, indeed, but it’s not ours in the way that our house is in Portland.
But someone else is living in that house right now. Their stuff litters the deck and rooms in arrangements I would not have chosen. We saw the inspection report from the property management company and our tenants are disgustingly well organized and have terribly good taste. My neighbors report that they are just the freaking nicest people, and the green monster5not the wall in Boston, folks rises up along with that burning feeling that I’m about create more salty water, but not from my brow or chest or the five million other places I’ve discovered I can sweat from.
Then I realize that I’m flying home to a city that sits within the middle of Southeast Asia like a gleaming giant, a true pearl; that I just spent a weekend in a place where the tap water was likely unsafe, debris and ruin dotted the lot next to our hotel and this is considered one of the highest standards of living in Southeast Asia6Full disclosure, George Town is REALLY NICE and life there is good. Wait until I get to Cambodia.. Shame burns just as bright as the half-formed tears and I understand that I’m being selfish and petty, and homesickness is a real thing and I should just own it like I do every other emotion.
So I do. Beverly and I sat at the local hawker center eating Korean bbq and rice, quiet on a Sunday night after our time out of town, and I don’t think I’ve ever quite felt closer to her in a long while. The food wasn’t as good as the street food in George Town, but this is home, for now, and life is good.