Wednesday, March 15, 2017

STORY OF MY LIFE

I've decided to start over. Previously, my friends and family members would say that everybody in my life knows everybody else in my life, by virtue of my blog. I also managed to get myself and several people in trouble, over the years, because I have virtually no filter and would share everything online. In this new and hopefully improved online persona/platform, I'll try and keep photographic evidence as well as personal details to a minimum. This will be done mainly out of respect for the wishes of my social circles; I generally don't care what anyone thinks of me. To new readers/people I have only recently met in life, I am about to ramble on about my almost-27-years of life. Some of the stories are anecdotes I'm fond of, others will be more like lessons my younger self had to experience for my current and older selves to make wiser decisions from, hopefully. It doesn't always seem to be the case and history does tend to repeat itself, but one can certainly try to do better, and to be better, than the past.

Before I embark on this journey of words, I'd like to make a little disclaimer of sorts. There are certain characters that could have been mentioned but didn't quite get to be. I think these people are living their own colourful lives and cannot be reduced to mere descriptions in mine, I wouldn't know where to start and end. Being the people they are, I have no doubt they will individually go on to touch other people's souls with their stories.

I don't have very many fond memories of growing up. My father had a terrible temper, he was emotionally abusive and occasionally physically berserk. He used to be a flight attendant and I remember wishing he would spend time away instead of with us. I don't know if that's normal for a child to feel, but I should hope not. I spent many days, weeks, months and accumulative years probably, crying or wondering why my mum was crying, or both. When I misbehaved as a child, my father would shout at me and make me stand on my chair in restaurants, to shame me. As a result, I rarely, if ever, misbehaved and even now am a sucker for propriety and having well-behaved company in public. A particular memory that stands out to me, as if a neon sign, was when my father was angry at my mother, and he smashed the windscreen of a car she had either rented or owned, I don't quite recall which. I also never found out what he used to smash a car windscreen. This was when I realised my father had anger issues, that his anger was not a normal kind of anger.

To add insult to injury, perhaps rather literally, my father could not (or would not) be faithful to his romantic partners. Sometime after my parents had my sister (whom I frequently say is my favourite person in the world and whom I will dedicate more than a few words to, later), I became aware that my father also had a son with another woman. The lady wanted my father to marry her, he didn't, and therefore she didn't allow him or any of us to see my half-brother, not until he turned 18 a couple years ago and asked to meet his father, so we started meeting him. My sister's birth and first year of life, as well as my parents' divorce, are events that are murky in the timeline of my memory, I don't know which came after what. I do know that my sister was much too young, she never experienced having our father as a father. She only knows bits and bobs of what happened when I or my mother or both of us decide to regale my sister with stories of our survival and how we lived to tell the tale. My sister and I, as well as both our parents, are all very melodramatic people, as you might probably know, if you interact with any of us personally.

I don't know if I'm oversimplifying things or overcomplicating them but I have trust issues with the men I date. I think, considering my father had flings and human beings take our fathers as the exemplary male figure, subconsciously there is a tiny irrational part of me that believes men are only using me for my physical qualities and will not be loyal if they are attracted to someone else.

I suppose, given that I started off by listing such things about my father, you might think I don't perceive him to have any redeeming qualities, yet he does. He was and still is the more open-minded of my parents. He would allow me to speak my mind, he's friendly towards people of all races, sexual orientation, religious backgrounds, etc. I think I'm more accepting towards people who are different from me, without ever wanting to change them, because I first saw my father doing the same.

Furthermore, my father didn't grow up in the healthiest or conducive of family environments, either. I'm not saying I excuse all his flawed behaviour, but I suppose I could say I understand where he was coming from. Emerging through my adolescence into early adulthood thus far, I have always been fortunate enough to have the most supportive of social circles. In my day and age, I was able to share my thoughts and feelings online and receive words of encouragement or solidarity from like-minded individuals. My father would probably not have benefited as much as I did, just for being a man, given that men are not really given the space to express their feelings and what they're going through. I want to acknowledge that even with the avenue of offloading my issues onto multiple listening ears, I still carry a lot of baggage within me. My father, I would assume, repressed a lot of his own experiences because it was what was expected of a "boy/man", and so perhaps his anger at everything he witnessed and lived through, manifested itself in ways much more amplified and hurtful than my own.

This is part of the many reasons I turned out to be quite a feminist. I think that subscribing to a dichotomy of what is and isn't acceptable male/female behaviour is harmful to everyone. I especially believe the idea of masculinity to mean you don't talk about your feelings to your "bros", or that guys can and should only just "suck it up" instead of seeking help or advice, is genuinely toxic, because emotions are a human feature, not a female trait. I am aware that I wasn't always such a proponent of allowing men to behave in whatever way they are comfortable in, as much as I've always vocalised feminism as allowing women to do and be whatever they want to do or be. I've tried to unlearn and am still slowly unlearning what I've been conditioned by society to believe. To perpetuate the notion that qualities traditionally perceived as "weak", like crying, or "strong" to mean shouldering all burdens by yourself, is unhealthy for both sides; men and women should be able to cry if they want or need to, or should be able to be the breadwinner in their families if they want to, and neither behaviour is weak or strong, in and of themselves.

After the divorce, my mother had to hustle hella hard to support myself and my sister. My father was supposed to pay alimony for us as his daughters while we were still minors, but for some reason, he never really got his shit together, and he wasn't able to keep up with his financial duties. Another demerit point against him. I remember him always defaulting on hundreds of dollars in payment for months on end, and my mother would get me to guilt him into paying, because they weren't on good terms and could not settle things by themselves. If you ever get a divorce after having kids, please don't do this to them. Please do not treat your children like pawns in a game of chess.

Anyhow, while my mother worked as a police officer, my maternal grandparents took care of and raised my sister and I. My maternal grandparents are the best kind of people and the best grandparents. They bought me a tiny tricycle and my late granddad would bring me on walks, during which time I'd be cycling my little tricycle. My late granddad also bought me my first musical instrument, a keyboard, and I enrolled in keyboard lessons in primary (elementary) school. They were the sort of grandparents who would always slip us little amounts of money for us to treat ourselves, and they tried their utmost to shelter my sister and I from the dysfunctional arguments between our father and mother that happened from time to time. My late grandfather was fond of writing and was a man of words, he would always type on his vintage typewriter (though at the time it wasn't vintage yet), and I think one day when I'm affluent and not paying off ridiculous bills and trying to sustain myself, I will get myself a functional typewriter.

My late grandfather was a teacher by profession, and back in those times when Singapore wasn't all that modern and teachers weren't supposed to receive gifts of monetary value on Teachers' Day, his students would give him tins of chocolate, and condensed milk and all sorts of food and home essentials, and for so many years, I kept hearing praise being heaped onto him. I loved him so much! My grandmother is a homely woman, she's on the timid side, she's never been on a rollercoaster or travelled by herself, she doesn't know how to cycle. Sometimes she sounds wistful about not having received an English education, and she's shy about speaking English to us and her other grandchildren, but she's the most adorable and the mellowest and the most generous, and the kindest and most patient of people. My maternal grandparents are the actual loveliest people. There are two things that strike me as most important, in my opinion, about my late granddad: one of them is he spent a lot of time counselling and talking to at-risk delinquents at the secondary/high school he taught at, and the second is that, when I was sitting for my examinations that would determine which secondary school I'd go to, he told my grandma and mum not to let me pick the school that he taught at, even though he taught there, because it's a sort of ghetto/neighbourhood school. I didn't know he said this until he'd passed away, and I've always wished I hugged him more often when he was still alive.

I don't know if you've heard of cousins being your first best friends, but one of my best friends is certainly my cousin, Hazwani. Of course my other cousins and the entire family are awesome, great people but Hazwani and I were born in the same year, and we're both girls, so it was just convenient for our parents to raise us together. We wore the cutest matchy overall outfits to the zoo, we had sleepovers and pretended to film silly "cooking shows" together, watched Disney movies like The Lion King on repeat. One of my favourite travel memories was when Hazwani and I went to New Zealand and she, her friend Amy (whom I then became friends with) and I danced to Sara Bareilles' Brave at Re:START Mall in Christchurch, which is made from shipping containers, after the earthquake there. We also skydived in NZ, and stayed in a jail-turned-hostel. Having Hazwani as a childhood companion, it's always easy to share thoughts and feelings with her since we've each always known the finer, intricate details and drama in our lives since the start, so there's no need to sort of fill in the backstories. We are part of each other's backstories.

In primary/elementary school, I had a best friend. Her name was Nadirah. We were like two peas in a pod, and on a few occasions, we had people asking whether we were sisters. Dirah and I liked Britney Spears, we danced to N'Sync and BSB, we had our first crushes on boys together. I really loved her and our friendship. Unfortunately, we lost touch after moving on to tertiary schools, and I find that if I don't meet up with people, I tend to offend them because I'm vocal, and opinionated. Unlike people whom you meet in your day-to-day life, that you can get coffee for or a meal with or whatever, people who just see my status updates or online posts without interacting with me in person, can start to dislike me based on my views and mindset. I don't quite know or recall what it was that made us sort of fall out, but I suppose perhaps we were just meant to be friends when we were young. She seems to be doing well for herself now, and I'm really glad for that.

I know, when we were best friends, that her parents were protective of her, and she was an only child, but her mother had had a miscarriage and she was supposed to have a brother. At that age, when I was... I dunno, 8 or 9? I hadn't really had any notion of a miscarriage because no one in my family had experienced it or talked about it to my knowledge, so that child-me was wondering why it seemed to be such an issue. Fast-forward sixteen, seventeen years later and this bit me right in the ass, and I began to completely understand how much of a trauma it could have been, and probably was for them. This also brings me to a lesson I have to keep reminding myself of: that everyone has their own individual journeys in life. I took more than a decade to get around to understanding and fully empathising with one person's perspective. I want and need to be more aware that if someone doesn't understand my feminist point of view, or if they don't agree with different sexual orientations, or if someone is being microaggressively racist, or they just don't have the same set of beliefs at the same point of time that I do, it doesn't necessarily mean they will never get there, or even that I should expect them to. I have to be patient and much, much less judgmental because I cannot expect anyone who hasn't been through the same experiences that I have, to feel and think and believe the same.

In high school, I became best friends with four girls: Atiqah, Hanisah, Shahida, and Syafiqin. At certain points of time, I was closest to Syafiqin, perhaps because we had the least respect for conventional values. Syafiqin, or Fiq, was the funniest, she was in drama club and she had a flair for entertainment. She's very artistic, she draws beautifully, and she always had a knack for photography or designing her own things like bags or shoes. We loved to get sushi together. I mention Fiq in the past tense, because it was very likely that she cheated on her partner, and then used us as covers, although we were her best friends and could (should?) have been trusted. I have never forgiven my father for his cheating tendencies, despite him being my immediate blood relative, and I must say I'm not inclined to ever forgive anyone I know who cheats. However, Fiq also seems to be doing well for herself, and I wish her all peace and happiness.

Atiqah is studying to be a doctor at Duke-NUS, and if I could have even half her tenacity, I would have accomplished so much more in my life, and then some. On rare occasions, I wish I could be her 'cos I would say she has had it easiest in life: she's stunningly gorgeous, she's got brains enough for two people, she comes from a rather stable family unit, and has never struggled with finances, because her parents are prudent savers, and have taken care of things for her and her siblings. Having said that, Tiqs has never lacked for compassion, although she is pretty much superior to me in all ways. I love that she's dependable, and when I went through my biggest trauma in life just months ago, despite being busy with her doctoral exams, she took time to meet me late at night, to lend me a listening ear. Her advice to me was sound and rational as an adult, yet taking into account her understanding of me as a person, making me realise she could really read me and empathised with how I would have handled things. She is a friend in need, and I am beyond proud to be friends with her.

Hanisah (Han) is my foil. She is the brains to my heart. She's an engineer for SIA, and she's always keeping me calm and logical while I devise new ways to jump into the first adventure I see. You know that recently popular comic strip where the brain character is always trying to keep the heart safe while the heart figure is off chasing butterflies or something? Yeah, I think we're like that. She keeps me safe and sound, and yes I bashfully admit that I typed that as I listen to Safe and Sound by The Civil Wars/Taylor Swift. One of my favourite memories with her has to be when I was shopping for a prom dress for my polytechnic graduation night. I stubbornly squeezed into a dress (with a long train) that was a size too small for me, 'cos they were out of my size, but then it was way, way, waaaay too tight, I could not breathe, and I couldn't even hold my breath long enough for Han to unzip me for me to get out of it. I was literally dying from lack of breath, but the two of us were doubled up in laughter in the dressing room, we were wondering if she should get a pair of scissors to cut me loose, all the while I was legit struggling and praying for air. I think Han and I are equally important to each other: I push her to do things she might never do because she's thinking too much about it, whereas she pulls me back from things that she knows would eventually hurt me.

The last of my best friends within the same high school clique is Shahida. One of the things that I think is most striking about her is that she got a degree in accounting but then decided it wasn't what she wanted to do, so she made a brave move and became a teacher. To me, this is super admirable 'cos I find that sometimes, people think their lives are dictated by society, or the impression they might make on other people, but that didn't stop her from doing what she felt best doing. Shahida is one of the more caring, kinder people I know. Apart from my cousin Hazwani, she visited me often when I went through my traumatic episode, bringing food to my workplace and making sure I was eating. We have this thing about food being our love language, because we both grew up with grandmas who would shower us with love in the form of homemade food, so Sha's always buying or preparing food with love, or treating me to meals, and I always feel cherished by her. I also see the way she loves and thinks of her family members, and I feel safe knowing that I'm one of the people she cares for. She's conscientious and puts careful thought into how she treats each person, for example trying to think of what to get for a gift, I know she's always looking out for clues, or whether something would fit into a person's philosophy.

While I went on to polytechnic and made new friends within my cohort, I also found my favourite thing from the internet: Noorhuda Amalina. I will forever be grateful to the internet for Huda. She and I used to have blogs about our teenage lives, and we would visit each other's blogs and tag each other's boards. I remember unique blogskins being all the rage, and I had one which I was so proud of, it was one where it would start off as a blank page, but if you type, say, "entries", then the entries portion would appear. It was all coded to appear like html, and it was so cool, at the time. Anyway, despite Huda and I having gone to the same high school and always lurking on each other's online platforms, we never became proper friends until we'd both graduated from Anderson, and I thank God for this friendship. Huda is my geeking-out friend, one with whom I can have conversations about what it means to be a Slytherin, and Gryffindors being foolhardy and brave just for the shameless self-promotion of it, we can ramble on about Spring Awakening, or Hamilton: The Musical and making up even more embellishments about these once-upon-a-time actual living people. However, as a Muslim, she allows me to pour out my existential-crisis thoughts to her, and try to rationalise my beliefs or lack thereof. We also get up to a lot of heartbreaks about boys, and we have loved, again and again, and will possibly always love, again and again. She understands my feelings, as she feels them too. We are the kind of people who have said, multiple times "I will love this man for all time, and never let go of it, I will never let go of him" but eventually still gone on to love new men, new boys, new people, in the past six years or so. I honestly pray for her to be in my life, always, because she's been so important in getting me through the worst of my lows, some of which I will expound upon in time to come.

In polytechnic, I joined the debate club, and I loved it. I wasn't actually very good at the debating part of it, but it did help me with my thinking. The one thing I learned from debates was to never stop questioning why, and I never stopped, indeed. My mother says I am very argumentative, but I don't take this as much of a negative that she intends it to be. :P

My close social circle in polytechnic was made up of Pearlyn, Cuifen, Andrea and Tim. The four of them were crucial, because at that time, everybody was starting to become adults and move on to adulthood, but I'd always been left behind in the personal development area. I think it's got to do with my childhood, I didn't appreciate seeing all the ugly things that happened between my parents that forced me to never really be a child, so as I left my teenagehood, I still tried to grip very tightly to some form of immaturity and not growing up. I think they saw me through my adolescent decisions and stuck by me, and tried to always nudge me back to responsible forms of life. Tim has been the best guy friend anyone could ever find, and I always feel blessed to have the best friends ever. He always tolerated my nonsense and bitchiness while I was PMSing, he would refill my waterbottle or get me food while I was curled up and ordering him around like the bitch I was, and he's helped me out of very tight financial situations. I honestly appreciate that I have stable role models to get advice from and to use as benchmarks/guidelines for what on earth I should be doing with my life at any point of time.

At the same time, I had my first boyfriend. We were together for just over a year, and on hindsight (because hindsight is 20/20) we should have broken up way earlier than that. I must honestly say I don't think I actually really loved him, I think I just liked the idea of being in a relationship with someone and it was very comfortable. I feel like many people possibly make the mistake of staying too long in their first relationship, because they want it to be the right one, like wow, my first love is also real love, but I don't know, I don't think it's common or realistic to expect that to happen.

After we broke up, I had my second boyfriend, whom I think is the only guy in my life so far whom I have actually loved that also actually loved me back. I met him in the debates club, and it was cute because in the year that he was president of the Temasek Polytechnic Debates Club, I was the vice-president, and there were a lot of inside jokes about me being his vice, etc. I remember very clearly how it all started.

We were in a club, for an event that was part of an overseas debates tournament (technically it was over a bridge 'cos it was in KL, Malaysia), and there was loud music, very little light, and I was in heels. Somefreakinghow,  I tripped over something in the club and fell right into his arms, that were outstretched at the last minute to save me. It was literally me falling for him. It amazes me to this day. I felt really embarrassed 'cos yknow, I was all dressed up and looking sophisticated and yet I couldn't carry myself in heels. The start of our relationship was quite rocky (to be honest it was rocky throughout), he tried to dissuade me because it would have been complicated (and it was), he was staunch Christian Chinese and his parents would not have approved of me, 'cos I was Muslim-Malay, though this mattered more to him than it did to me. This has been a running theme through the guys I date, though, I tend to go after men who are or seem unattainable to me, I don't know if I don't actually believe in true love or healthy relationships and I just wanna break my own heart??? In any case, we still loved each other, very much. We cared for and took care of each other, and were each other's best friends. We took long bus rides together, talked about anything under the sun, he was very patient with me. In fact, I would have to say anybody who stays in my life for the long run, has got to be very patient, because I'm stubborn and recalcitrant and temperamental, and I fluctuate wildly between being crazy in love and not believing that anyone could love me because I'm... quite broken and impossible to deal with.

Sometime in my late teens, my mother battled breast cancer in its third stage. When we first found out, my sister Lyssa didn't talk to my mother and me for months, I think, because we didn't tell her initially, and she was extremely upset. She was in her early teens at that point, and my mother was not optimistic about her odds. It was a tough time in our lives, my mother had remarried and had my two half-sisters with my stepdad. Two of my mother's four daughters were under the age of ten, one was going through teenage angst, and I took turns with my stepdad to accompany her through the nights when she'd stay up being sick and heaving from chemotherapy. It seems distant now, but when we went through it for two years, every day and night felt like it would never end.

I had a very strong infatuation with a guy called Khalis a few years back. He was a year my senior in high school, and I had always had a crush on him. He plays drums, and I'd always liked drums and wanted to learn to drum, so I began asking him out. He's a funny guy, and always so cool. He was studying architecture at NUS (and is an architect now), and he's also a dancer, so I went to watch a production that he choreographed, and I've always been in so much awe of him. I was his biggest fangirl. It was the weirdest thing, I put him on a pedestal, would not bring him back down and had such intense feelings. Because he's a funny guy, and also very smart and rational, when I went through low periods in my life, like when my mother was going through chemotherapy, I would ask him to cheer me up. Then for months/years, I started intermittently whining about the tumultuous semi-relationships that I'd get in, and listening to Taylor Swift, and it wasn't until I went through last year's trauma, and told him about it, that I feel that he seemed to think "oh shite, now we're talking" which amuses me, and if it's true, I don't mind because there's some sense to it. Khalis is here in my life story to remind me that infatuation is not love, and I have to tone down on my intensity. Sometimes I look back on my memories with him, and I think "what is wrong with me????" and want to bury myself somewhere, but mostly I get really grateful that he was a friend throughout.

Circa 2013, I wanted to take part in a social media contest, but it had to be a duo, and so I approached a classmate from high school, Pamela. We didn't do all that well for the contest, but I will forever be glad we joined, and became close friends after that. I sort of place Pamela along the same lines as Tiqs, she's pretty, well-to-do, intellectual, they've got it all. Pamela has also worked really hard to make it on her own terms, though, she's never been one to rest on her laurels. I would confide in Pam the.... um... details of our escapades because for all its supposed modernness, a lot of Singaporean society still are conservative in terms of sexuality and physicality, I think the trendy term would be slut-shamey. I love Pamela because for one, when I went through the episode of Daniel Grayson, she really helped to pull me out of it, and was a voice of reason when I was feeling vindictive af. For two, when I went through my latest trauma last year, I got to go on a getaway back to nature, thanks to her help. For three, she's tried to prop me up in terms of professional opportunities, and I will always be grateful to no end, that she doesn't think twice about levelling the privilege she has by pulling me up alongside her.

Speaking of Daniel Grayson, here goes nothing. I usually refer to him as Daniel Grayson, the way comic book villains usually go by their full monikers, like Harley Quinn or Lex Luthor. I also fondly refer to him as Graysonuvabitch, to my closer friends. Two years ago, I'd just been healing from being strung along by another guy, who's actually rather inconsequential in my life except for leading me to the douchebag Daniel. D and I shared pretty much every single detail about our lives, he was a very charming, witty man, he geeked out about Ke$ha and Taylor Swift, and allowed me to geek out about Swifty as my guilty pleasure, etc. I told him I had trust issues because my dad was a cheat, he offered words of solace and empathy. The worst part was that I fully trusted him, he reeled me in hook, line and sinker, and we were pretty much lovers in the full sense of the word, before I found out he was engaged to a woman back in Charlotte, NC. What the hell is wrong with people in this world?????? I was really broken, for the first time in my life I felt truly used. I mean, you would think after finding out the details of my life and my beliefs as a person, the least he could have done was leave me alone, and move on to some other scumbag with whom cheating could have been consensual. BUT NO, HE HAD TO USE ME. Motherfucker. Burn in hell.

So anyway, when I found out Daniel was back with his fiancée in the US, it was at the start of the fasting month of that year, and I felt weak and empty. My stomach was the literal pits, and I called Huda and cried and did not move, and my sister Lyssa came and hugged me for the longest time, just to hold me together.

Towards the end of Daniel Grayson year, I got a Facebook message from an account I did not know, who told me to advise my father to stop soliciting for sex from his girlfriend. My father, the one who had fathered a son while married to my mother, got divorced, remarried a kind, lovely woman, and had three kids with her. My youngest half-sister was not even six months old, and she was born on Father's Day of that year, and still, my dad did not stop straying, not even on account of having already had six kids. When I asked him about it, he said "I didn't think you would find out." *upside down smileys forever to no fucking end* When I found out about this, my thought was "no wonder Daniel Grayson happened to me! I'm getting all the karma for my dad!" UPSIDE DOWN SMILEY PARADE

But this is also why I think, if you do it once, you will do it again. I never trust cheats.

And now we come to the year of The Best and Worst Time of My Life, also known as 2016. I went to Los Angeles, for the second time in my life, and couchsurfed for two months. This means that I stayed in people's homes for free, on the understanding that if they ever travelled to my home country, I would host them if I was able to. I highly recommend couchsurfing because it really allows you to see the kindness and goodwill of people and what they are willing to offer you, even when you can't do much for them in return, besides perhaps washing their dishes. I've been fortunate enough to have travelled to a variety of countries, I've seen New Zealand, which is a place of real beauty, and I've met people from all walks of life, by virtue of debating and the many different things I've dabbled in for work. Los Angeles holds a special place in my heart. I don't know whether it's the entirety of the USA, or LA in particular, because I haven't ventured outside California, but I always felt I belonged there. When I express my desire to live outside of Singapore, certain people naturally counter with "but Singapore is such a clean city! it's got working public transport!" but I don't feel like life should be about feeling safe and comfortable.

I feel restless in Singapore, because it is not a place that promotes questioning, in fact quite the opposite: the government loves sheep, and robots, and people who are happy being safe. I'm not saying there's anything inherently wrong with that, but I do know I'm not built that way, and I cannot feel happy living that way. I know this is human nature, for one to say they hate being told what to do, but I think there are different measures of how much one detests it. In the US, or when I speak with Americans, their base philosophy is always "let me be happy the way I want to, don't tell me what to do" and I identify with it strongly. Of course I don't romanticise it to the extreme, I know it will be hard for me to earn an income, probably, and it will be a lot of hustling to survive, but when it comes down to it, I think it'd be much more worth it if I'm happy hustling there, instead of being comfortable here, but never really being allowed to be who I want to be, or do what I want to do. Life isn't and shouldn't be about money.

So, anyway, I met many incredibly and outstandingly nice people over the course of my stay in the US. I wish I could write each of them a chapter and I probably will one day, in a novel somewhere, but this is about my life story, and nobody has changed my life story the way Joey has. I stayed with him for about a month, and it was the easiest, simplest thing as it unfolded. He trusted me, and I trusted him. He allowed me to live in his home while he carried on with life, going to work on a daily basis. I went to house parties with him, we raced in the canyons in his Mazda RX7, or on his spanking new Triumph, that he purchased with me being completely cranky and hungry by his side. He works at SpaceX, so he took me on a tour of the facility, which completely blew my mind, because how many Singaporeans do you know have been on a tour of SpaceX? I only know one, and that person is me.

I fell in love with Joey. I felt safe with him. I wrote while I lived there, and I figure his brainy faculties would have been exerted hard during his working hours, so we kept each other company with working on his cars, or while he watched rocket launches on Youtube and I read books by his side. We shared some giggles when his friends said weird stuff to each other, and Joey and I would give each other a sideeye and think "what weirdos". Before I left the US, I posted an Instagram photo with a caption that included "Los Angeles, just as I have left parts of me all over you, I will always carry you within me." The post is still there, if you would like to see it. At the point, I wasn't consciously aware of what had happened, so I didn't know how literal my caption actually was, but perhaps, my brain knew, because when your body is going through something like that, your brain has got to have signals to prepare the rest of your body for it, right?

When I got back to Singapore, I found out some very surprising and unexpected news. I consulted my friends, all the ones mentioned above, and then some (I really wish I could talk about all of them individually but again, they've got their own stories, they're going to shine). The choice was taken away from me because what happened, happened organically, before I even made a confirmed choice. I think a lot of the trauma came from how my mum reacted to me when she found out, because she's sort of religious, ever since going through cancer. She said she felt guilty because of me, and in a way, all I've been feeling since then, is guilty. However, I learned a lot from the experience. I now realise that if I do want to be a parent, there are certain safety nets that I should be able to provide for my kids. I haven't actually been very upfront or using the actual technical terms in this paragraph or the last, because my mother does not want me to talk about it. This is where I say my father is more open-minded than my mum.

In any case, I'm looking for a counsellor because I think there's a lot of.... stuff I've repressed. I started having panic and anxiety attacks at unexpected moments, and I don't think it's natural to let them continue without seeking help.

So. All that has formed my life story.

I have one more character to talk about, and it's my sister Lyssa. She is my favourite person in the world. By virtue of being sisters, she understands me the way no one else does, because we see each other almost every day, so words that mean nothing special to anyone else, set us off on laughter. She's extremely intelligent, but she lacks self-esteem. She has trust issues too, but she's even worse than I am, she never used to believe in love, possibly because her early foundation years were spent without her actual father fulfilling his duties. She's a science person, whereas I can't science at all. Sometimes when our younger sisters ask a scientific question, perhaps about buoyancy and whatnot, Lyssa looks at me to see if I'm able to answer the question, but I never can, afterwhich she sniggers and provides the answer. I think she's my favourite, because she used to look up to me (she doesn't anymore, I don't think) and it gave me purpose. She used to believe everything I say. I also think she's a little bit of a mini-me, in terms of mindset, wherein she's a feminist and a bit of social justice warrior. I don't know if that would have happened if I wasn't her sister, but I don't see the same lines of thought flowing through the rest of our cousins, so I hope part of it is really my influence. It's sort of practice for raising a kid, having younger siblings. I'm really proud of her, because in recent times, she's been the mature one, being strong for me, and holding me up and putting me back together. We've gone through the worst of times together, and we've had the best memories together too. I'm super glad Melyssa is my sister.

This story is actually mostly for Lyssa, 'cos she's always asked me to write about my whole life as one continuous story.

I must add, having written and read all of that, my life hasn't been too shabby. I haven't been too shabby, I hope. I keep telling myself, I'm proud of the person I am. I might be intense, and overzealous, and gullible. I like myself this way. The only reason I've been taken for a ride multiple times, is 'cos I trust people easily, I wouldn't hurt anyone intentionally, so I always give others the benefit of the doubt that they wouldn't hurt me, either. I don't think it's anything to be ashamed of, of loving too much, too easily. Almost-twenty-seven years of life, well-lived, I would say. On hindsight, I wouldn't change a thing. For the time being, I'm saving up so I can be a responsible, functional adult, before I can leave for more travels and life overseas. Sometimes, I really wish someone would just front me $20k so I can take a break and write my novel for a year, or something. But I know life doesn't work that way. J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter while she was broke and was a single mum with a toddler. If she can do it, so can I.