The Last Stage

Singapore Haze Sunset

On Sunday I took my daughter to see the live percussion troupe Stomp. It was a great show; the last one we’ll see before leaving Singapore.

Also, it was our last visit to Marina Bay Sands and the trip home will probably be our last MRT ride.

When you are leaving a place, moving on to a new city or country, there comes a point where you start consciously doing things for the last time. Initially it’s fun to say a hearty and un-fond farewell to the places and experiences you haven’t liked or have struggled to enjoy.

But, then it gets down to the last moments of your regular routine, the things that got into your heart and made living in that place worthwhile, or the things you used to look forward to, the treats and high points of each week or month.

It will be hard to say goodbye to my local park, where the afternoon light would filter through the canopy of trees while the neighbourhood kids played, or my local Chicken Rice stall, with their brusque but friendly service and of course, the Kopi place where I’ve waited every Wednesday while my daughter had her guitar lessons, giving me a colourful and thoroughly local slice of Singapore life.

And, one day very soon, I will, one last time, close the front door of the place I’ve called home for the past two years.

Of course, the cycle of lasts includes people as well. The last coffee or drink with each friend, the last chat with each of my favoured local shopkeepers or the last conversation with my neighbours.

You might say, I’m being overly dramatic. In an interconnected world I could always visit Singapore again and, therefore, the goodbyes are not final.

In a sense that’s true and in a sense it’s totally false.

Even if I found myself living here again I wouldn’t be the same person. Things would be different, because I and everyone around me would have moved on. As the poet Robert Frost once said, “way leads on to way.” Whatever this experience has been, it ends now.

I can still recall the sound of every last door closing, from Sydney, to London, to Delhi and Hong Kong. I can still recall the smiles thorough the sadness of all those last goodbyes and best wishes. And, I can still feel the heavy heart and the lump in my throat every time I walk down the skybridge from what had been my home airport, one last time, before pausing to touch airplane’s door then boarding and looking out the window one last time, at the city I’m leaving behind and all the people who will awake the next morning and then, get on with their lives without me.

Comments

  1. says

    More and more people are choosing to just say “until next time” instead of “goodbye” but for some reason I really need to have the official goodbye. It’s more realistic I think? Thinking of you all as you pack up …

  2. says

    Naomi – I’m not convinced by “until next time.” It feels like a cop-out. Expats can tend to overestimate how likely it is we will see people again, or cross-paths again. Seems wiser to me to admit this season is ending and if there is further contact, continuation of friendship, or another opportunity to be in the same community, that is a bonus.

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