Yes, I’ve been MIA for a while now, but not just from you guys. Also from my family and friends back in Singapore and other places as well. Wow, I don’t even know where to start or what I should say, but the loyal followers among you would have guessed one or more of the following things from my occasional 140-character tweets:
1) I am still in San Francisco.
2) I have initiated a break-up with my husband.
3) I am in love.
4) I have found a job in Oakland, California.
Of course, the majority of you don’t give a shit and I might just be talking to myself here. But I felt a sort of responsibility to those of you who care to share the whirlwind experiences of the past two months of my life. Since I can’t explain everything in one post, I shall talk about one thing at a time. So first, why am I still in San Francisco? Wasn’t I supposed to be in various parts of the U.S. on a roadtrip that I was so psyched for?
So, logistically speaking. Initially, I planned to stay in San Francisco for only a couple of days, then David, my couchsurfing host in my next destination L.A., told me that he had to go on a business trip on the days we had agreed on. He asked if I could change my dates, and because I hadn’t booked a ticket yet, I decided to change my itinerary a little and stay a couple more days in SF. Here comes the really shitty part: after I had booked and paid for the ticket, nice guy David emails me and tells me that his business trip was cancelled and if I could change my ticket to the earlier date because it would actually be better for him. I had already set my heart and mind to staying a few more days in SF, so I suggested coming to L.A. at an even later date. Because the airline didn’t allow changes to the itinerary, I had to buy another ticket.
Two days before I was to fly to L.A., flakehead dropped me a curt email, saying “Sorry to do this to you, but I can’t host you anymore. Hope you are able to find someone else. Good luck.” I was literally, like, WTF. He made me change my itinerary twice and then he drops me a horribly insincere email to brush me off? I emailed him back to ask (surprisingly politely) the reason he’s fucking me over and without explanation, too, especially since I had already wasted US$85 on the first ticket. He just replied, as cryptically, that he’s sorry for the inconvenience, but never offered any rhyme or reason. I was pissed off, to say the least, because the experience with David the flakehead gave me a general bad vibe about L.A. People I met in SF had also been telling me bad things about L.A. as well — like how people there are superficial and flaky. (Of course, I wouldn’t be able to judge that since I never got to L.A. My guess is Californians in general are rather laidback and flighty.) Hence, at that point, when I was having a lot of fun in San Francisco, it just seemed more appealing to stay on than to go to L.A. without a place to crash and without a local host to show you around. So, I decided to skip L.A., stay in SF for another week, before heading to New Orleans, which was my planned stop after L.A. All in all, the Los Angeles airhead made me waste two plane tickets and US$170.
Of course, New Orleans never happened. By the time I had to book the flight, I was wrought with serious doubt as to whether I wanted to continue on my “roadtrip”. Basically, two things happened to me in the first two weeks of my time in San Francisco. I fell in love with San Francisco and I fell in love with someone. I’ll elaborate on the second in the next post as I think the amazingness of the whole experience as well as the guy I fell in love with warrants its own body of literature and analysis. So here, I’ll just talk about my love affair with San Francisco.
Being here made me feel alive, as if I could breathe for the first time. In the last couple of months and probably the last two or three years, I had become increasingly dissatisfied with life in Singapore — although I had always felt like an outcast anyway. Back home, I always felt like an underachiever, like I was childish and looked down upon for pursuing unrealistic dreams such as writing or wanting to go to grad school to do English Lit or Creative Writing. As I’ve said in several posts, I felt like people in Singapore were zombies who lived in a suspended space-time continuum, prioritizing money, success and material gain over everything else. Even though I always trusted my gut and knew I wanted more than that in life, the pressure from these droning “practical” voices was pushing me into a corner where I increasingly questioned my own sanity. I felt like I was crazy for wanting to live life the way I thought was right. That was one of the reasons I wanted to get away and come here — I wanted to clear my head and see what I could find in a different environment.
And when I got here, man, I felt free. I felt like I had wings and like I could fly. In San Francisco, you could start a casual or meaningful conversation with anyone on the street. In the first couple days alone, I’ve had more satisfying discussions and conversations with strangers than I’ve had in my entire 30 years. At Union Street in the Pacific Heights district, I met this elderly gentleman outside a cafe when I asked him which bus would get me to the Cable Car Museum. We got to talking and he told me that he wrote epic American poems. I told him I was a writer too and started this blog a couple months before and realized that writing was the only thing that made me happy. The arrival of the bus interrupted our discussion and I never saw the epic poet again. Still, more brief friendships and connections kept happening to me here. On a good day, I found out great tidbits about the lives and personal history of three random people on the busride home. This would never happen in Singapore where people will look at you funny if you, a stranger, tried to talk to them about seemingly nothing.
In the first two weeks alone, I felt like a dog that had found its home. For the first time, I felt sane, like I wasn’t crazy for wanting what I want. Besides, there are tonnes of crazy people here anyway — compared to them, and especially as an anal-retentive Singaporean, I would probably be considered overly sensible. And that is a great feeling! To be able to live your life the way you want, to do the things you want, without feeling like you’re being judged — I thought to myself, “I feel at home, I think.” So, when it came time to leave for New Orleans, I felt this pang of loss thinking of first, having to leave San Francisco and second, having to go back to my unsatisfying life in Singapore. I started crying at the thought and I didn’t want to leave. Then, I told myself, “Why do I have to leave? There must be some way I could make this work.”
So there, that was my epiphany and why I’m still here in my beloved San Francisco.
Till the next post… if anyone cares at all.