The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

What the Complete Residents’ Guide to Singapore didn’t say

on December 14, 2014

I have the book but I didn’t quite get to the Orientation presentation on The Complete Residents’ Guide to Singapore.

It’s like your regular Lonely Planet Guide covering culture, shopping and places to eat but with additional information on ‘how to set up home’, places you could live, healthcare providers and schools for your children. I think I did read it or some of it (it’s really thick with very small sized font) but like your regular Lonely Planet Guide, you can’t really visualise the country you’re going to until you’re there and you become familiar with your surroundings.

I’m sure if I were to look at the Guide now, six years later, I may find it more useful and even find new things to do and places to go.

In fact, I have just had a quick flick through it and it makes for much better reading now that most of it makes sense. I can picture geographically where all these places are and what shopping centres are good for what and which bars and restaurants are worth a look at. The amount of information in these guides that are just for padding is quite ridiculous and can cause much anxiety and confusion.

Luckily the evolvement of social media provides a much more satisfying insight into the world of an Expat Resident living in Singapore. My newsfeed on Facebook gets clogged up with all manner of questions and advice people need or think they need.

But the one thing that I could have done with some forewarning on and advice on how to survive it is this.

How to prepare yourself when people you really like and children you held as a newborn baby move on from the transient hub of Singapore.

I’ve mentioned it before a couple of times because it’s the one area that really hits me. Every time it happens.

I like you, otherwise I wouldn’t spend time with you and because I like you, I spend a lot of time with you. Then you have to leave.

Or one day I will leave.

And I miss you. I miss you a lot. And your children. And my children miss your children. Not so much you. But you understand.

Then the things we do together, I don’t do anymore. There are certain parts of Singapore I haven’t been to in years because people who used to live there don’t live there anymore and I have no reason to venture that way. It’s quite weird.

Am I the only Expat who feels this way? I don’t think so but as much as I would like my circle of friends to remain the same, there’s been something incredibly enriching about living this Expat life.

I can barely imagine a life where I had never met these people at all. So many different nationalities and outlooks on life. Some amazing people and really lovely, kind, loyal friends who still remain somewhere in my life. Some of course, were not like that and it’s quite a relief.

I’ve had quite a lot of Goodbyes this year.

The latest one was last week. I thought I’d be ok with it because they’ve headed back to the UK and I’m pretty sure I’ll see her and the kids again. She’ll be rubbish at general updating and she leaves no trail on Facebook, which is a very helpful resource in keeping in touch with all these people. But I know she’ll be booking babysitters as soon as there’s a word of catching up with a glass of wine. Or, she’ll create a campsite in her new home so we can bundle all the children together and leave them to it.

No exit from Singapore has been as painful for me as when Brilliant New Adventure left last year. I still wish she was here all the time but those who are really true friends never let you go. Out of all the hundreds of people I’ve met here in six years, I’ve had some really wonderful times with so many of them.

We started off tentatively together, you know on your best behaviour and all. Getting confused and misreading cultural differences in our approach to things. I’m being all British and you’re being not British and I’m thinking I don’t really get you and am I ever going to get anyone ever again?

Then suddenly, through the fog of so many new things happening at once. New country, new employment status, new baby, new sleep patterns. I get you. I really do. Then I start becoming more myself, the non Expat version who isn’t (though really ought to be) on their best behaviour all the time.

I used to go out you know. I even would have a drink. I’d even have more than two or three too. How outrageous of me. Oh you did too? Really? Yes. I did. In a time before I met you with an 8 month gestation sized bump that replenished a couple more times afterwards.

I’ve obviously met all the friends I have made in Singapore through having had #1, 2 and 3. I couldn’t have asked for better support when we were new parents or when the chaos of multiple children hit us hard in the solar plexus. Or when the loneliness of missing family and distance from family during their time of need made us question what were we doing.

An Expat Circle provides you with a network of support when you have none to hand. We are all experienced at being the New Kid at School. That awkwardness of wondering whether you’ll ever fit in, all these other people seem to know what they’re doing and I am clueless. So were they once. So was I. And so that’s why you extend that hand of friendship. Many of us have the time of course but also will remember just how it does feel to be that new person. Even when we are confident, experienced Grown Ups.

So, as I was saying, I said Farewell for now to one friend I’ve known for six years. Nearly all the time we’ve been in Singapore. I know I’ll see her again but as we said Goodbye, it suddenly hit me that I won’t be seeing her next week. That the boys will have grown taller and more grown up the next time I do. That they will not hang out together with #1, 2 and 3 doing what they’ve been doing for six years. That there will be no more red wine and lethal cocktail nights out for some while.

Ah, that realisation was shit all over again. But one thing I do know now and that is we will remain in touch. Perhaps not all the time, but enough to keep things going. And having met up with one such lovely friend in the UK when I was back whom I met out here and it feeling like we just finished a conversation yesterday.

So perhaps no one needs to tell you that part about Expat living. Far better you figure it out yourself, otherwise you wouldn’t want to risk getting to know anyone at all and that would be a huge shame.

For me at least.


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