© Mandy Tay 

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June 4, 2017

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Long Way Home

June 4, 2017

In the middle of 2014 I quit the job I loved and had to decide on a ticket back to Singapore from Dubai.  I couldn’t.  And so I avoided the problem altogether and bought a one way ticket to Brazil.  It didn’t make sense but geography was never my strongest suit anyway.  I decided that I would go the long way home.

 

During the time when I travelled through South America, Europe, Asia and the tip of Africa, there was never a moment where I felt unsafe, including the moment I met you, a complete stranger, whom I trusted, completely.  You could be friends with anything that moved, if you wanted to. And most of the time, you did.

 

When we parted ways you were always the one I wanted to send a postcard to, except that you didn’t have an address. We were both travelling. That was the best and worst part of meeting you. You and me with a ticket each, heading in the opposite direction, one day after we meet. And then every once in a while, you would send a message, asking our favourite question.  Where are you now?  We would conspire to meet against all odds.  Come to my city, you would fight with me.  Night buses and morning walks.  Tell me another of your crazy stories.  And another, for the road.  Don’t trust anybody, you nagged.  I would laugh along and nod, even if I didn’t mean it.  Even if you couldn’t see me, trusting one more stranger. Just one more.

 

I still feel that split in a moment when I tear myself away from the train every once in a while.  Back here in Singapore, one year on.  I remind myself not to let the speed of the train match the speed of my days.  I want to touch the length of time by the minute, not by a decade.  Already, last summer seems like a million suns ago.  By now, you’re two continents away.  Or even three.   Since then I’ve lost track of our stories.  It’s been such a long year. Actually, the longest year of my life. Which ones are mine and which are yours?  They have become so intertwined that they are starting to look like lace.  Formed by unseen leaves of a tree on the ground, growing sharper, when the sun shines harder, on the memory.

 

Most of all I want to remember there’s always another way to live.  To remember how it cost me an effort to say “goodbye" even though I’ve only met you for a day.  That I’m glad to have met you anyway.

 

Where are you now?

 

 

 

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