Five years ago, I started this blog. Unbeknownst to me at that time, it would change my life. I was about to turn 30 and have been unhappy for as long as I remember. There were a lot of unanswered questions in my life to which I had no answer. I was married, like everybody else, but did not achieve the bliss it was supposed to give you. All my life, I’ve turned to books, literature and writing to seek the answers to questions I had no one to pose. I turned to this blog, which I then named “Girl With A Big Mouth” to express my feelings and thoughts. I didn’t expect that it would take me to the impulses I had and to the U.S., where I still live.
I spent the past day and a half watching the entire first season of Felicity – the DVD cover jumped out at me in my Netflix homepage. It was late Friday night and I recalled faint vignettes of the show. Something told me I should watch it – and I did. Memories of when I was 18, 19, came back to me – I really connected to the show’s protagonist, Felicity. She defied her parents and instead of going to Stanford, she followed a boy she liked to New York. I remembered at that time feeling the pangs of envy – how I wished I could switch places with her. How exciting it must be to travel thousands of miles away from your home and create adventures for yourself. I think I already had those pangs – for years, all I could think of was leaving to see the world, go beyond my comfort zone – because I was sure there was some place to which I belonged. The show merely was a catalyst that made the hole in my life seem bigger.
As I watched the characters talk about their new lives in New York – with the city figuring prominently almost like a character – I look out my window at the fog-capped view, and I smiled a wide, satisfied grin. I finally had my New York – I had a place where I belonged and love dearly.
I smoked a bowl tonight, well maybe it’s more like a feeble attempt at sucking in smoke through a very tiny hole in my blue glass psychedelic pipe. I don’t usually smoke weed. And I’m probably one of few in a city where the fumes of weed permeate almost every corner, especially in my neighborhood, the Haight, where smoking weed and looking homeless (some say hipster) give people hood cred. But yeah, I don’t usually smoke pot. It does nothing much for me.
But tonight, I felt like feeling light. Like having my problems diffuse into cool mist, and then be able to dive into deep slumber.
I’m sitting now in the middle of a darkly lit bar, with cheesy pop music courtesy of Rihanna playing in the background. It’s a bar called Tonic, which sits in the area between the Marina district and Russian Hill, and the mere mention of the two districts spark certain looks in locals. Snobs. White people. Posers. Douchebags. Meatheads. Surprisingly, I feel quite comfortable sitting here, typing away, holed up in a corner on beat up leather barseats, slowly meditating on pear cider, which has become my poison in America. Because everyone must have a drink here. Everyone must have a poison. Drinking is a part of life.
The past week, no less the past month since I’ve moved here, has been a series of emotional trials for me. Alone. Confused. Stranded. There have been times where I have felt like just taking off and flying back home. But then, I sober up and remember how much I hated what I called “home”, which in my mind synonymized with Shittapore, and how hard I worked in order to escape from there.
… strangely parallels mine.
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.
In the U.S., or even in Europe, it seems a regular rite of passage for one ascending beyond adolescence to take a sort of a roadtrip to find oneself – to know what it is that one can accomplish and live with beyond the comforts of one’s environment. The roadtrip gives one the opportunity to experience different cultures, different opinions, different surroundings, and most of all, the chance to test the limits of one’s endurance and character, and what one would make of one’s resources in situations where your family or usual go-to friends would not be of assistance. In other words, you find out who you really are and what you’re capable of because you’re forced to and with limited resources.
When I told friends and family I was taking a roadtrip around the U.S. for several weeks, the reactions ranged from shock to worry to ridicule. When that failed to faze me, they’d find some logical reason to justify my wanting to go on a solo trip – sans husband, sans friend and sans familiar connections. “Are you alright?” “Is there something wrong?” “Are you going there to look for a job?” “Are you going to look for a boyfriend?” My mum called me several times to ask me what my husband would do for a month in Singapore without me. Well, I guess he has lived decades before he met me; he’d do fine without me for a month.