Last year, when I came back to San Francisco, and then on for a night to Portland, I found myself keeping a mental ledger of sorts of what I liked, what I missed, what I would miss from the Lion City and ultimately, what side of the Pacific I favored. The conclusion was Singapore for the time being, having been there only for nine months and wanting to see more. In January, my parents and my father-in-law visited, and Bev and I acted as tour guides and cheerleaders as well as hosts, leading our parents around Singapore, teaching them all we have learned about our adoptive city. We both enjoyed our task of showing them around, but at the time, I think we both were looking forward towards moving back to our beloved Rose City.
In a phrase, it’s amazing how much can change in a few short months. After a week in the States, I am much more apt to mourn my pending departure from Singapore. And none of that is to really throw any negativity on the US, on the city of my birth, or my hometown. It’s just that, well, after a year, the Little Red Dot is starting feel more and more like home. It’s just too early to leave.
My Monday morning ritual is disturbed of course when I travel, but this Monday morning – early Tuesday for my friends back in Singapore – sees me in SFO well ahead of my flight, scared into early travel by tales of endless security queues as the TSA publicly struggles with the heightened holiday travel rush1Singapore folks, this Monday is Memorial Day in the US. If there were teeming hordes traveling to finish up the holiday weekend, they’re not going overseas. I was through check-in and security in little under 15 minutes. So, it’s time to write.
I have to contemplate the back half of this past week separately from the reason that brought be back to the States. While my grandfather’s funeral was a time of solace and familial connections, that can only last so long before life moves on. Life moved us to Hidden Valley Lake, the community where my parents’ lake house resides, which I wrote about past September, when a brutal and fast-moving wildfire destroyed many houses within the township, as well as nearly flattening the nearby town of Middletown. Indeed, driving into that sleepy burg and the surrounding hills showed much of the devastation’s path – charred land and dead trees read like a Google Map of the fire’s path, shocking me how close it came to the heart of Middletown, and later, as my mom showed me around the neighborhood – how close it came to their house.
Thursday evening and Friday morning/afternoon were a flurry of busy work – small chores and home improvement tasks before my sister and her family came up to visit, a welcome chance to spend time with her, my brother-in-law and their kids, notably Jackson, my precocious four-year old nephew who had by the time they arrived, arranged for a full baseball lineup in his mind for us to play. Me at catcher, my Mom at first base. “Papa” – his name for my father – on the mound, and shocking nobody, Jackson at bat, ready to knock nerf balls over the grapes, our fence for home runs. Since everyone was on food detail, Jax settled for me lobbing him arcing pitches for him to tee off on, gleefully sticking his tongue out at me every time he took me yard.
I sullenly took my licks. It’s bad form to bean your four year old nephew, after all.
But of course I loved every second of it. It was a delight to spend time with my family, to see my niece, now a growing little six-month old with an infectious smile and wonderful laugh. I laughed along with my parent’s friends watching the Warriors, savoring live basketball in the evening instead of the morning. Emily, Joe and I played cards and talked about anything that came up until the late hours of the night.
But I still want to go back. The visit was good, if a bit underlined by sorrow, but my life right now is in Singapore and I want to enjoy it as much as possible.
And can you blame me? The Bay Area isn’t my home, first off. It’s where I’m from, it’s beautiful, and I of course failed to get any good pictures of the beauty of Sonoma County’s wine country, but it’s a place to visit. It’s where my family lives. Home is, outside of a tiny island in the South China Sea, a tiny weird little city that I haven’t truly seen in a year and a half. But home for now is Singapore.
One thing about the beauty of the North Bay, and really of all of the West Coast. Saturday afternoon after Emily had left, my Dad and I went down to the lake, he on his Hobie, me on his paddle board, a surf-board like vessel propelled while standing on it with a single paddle. The day was warm, but not hot – about 80 degrees Fahrenheit227 Celsius, folks!, with a small breeze3much to my father’s dismay – and at times I would jump4or fall off the board into the water and just float along, taking in the clear day with wonder. It is something that does belong on the east side of the Pacific’s ledger – summers along the West Coast are amazing, awe inspiring affairs. The cool evenings, the sun-kissed days. Singapore simply can’t compete with that – little can.